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Last Decade Assessment of the Impacts of Regional Climate Change on Crop Yield Variations in the Mediterranean Region

Hanan Ali Alrteimei
Zulfa Hanan Ash’aari
1,* and
Farrah Melissa Muharram
Department of Environment, Faculty of Forestry and Environment, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang 43400, Selangor, Malaysia
Department of Agriculture Technology, Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang 43400, Selangor, Malaysia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agriculture 2022, 12(11), 1787;
Submission received: 19 September 2022 / Revised: 26 September 2022 / Accepted: 6 October 2022 / Published: 28 October 2022
(This article belongs to the Section Ecosystem, Environment and Climate Change in Agriculture)


The influence of regional climate change (CC) on agricultural production variance in the Mediterranean region has been discussed based on the assessment of the last decade. Most of the Mediterranean region has experienced frequent natural disasters, expanding population, increase in temperature, and increase in the surface of the Mediterranean Sea. Furthermore, the temperature in the Mediterranean area is rising 25% faster than the rest of the globe, and in the summer, it is warming 40% faster than the global average. Climate change can alter the food supply, restrict access to food, and degrade food quality. Temperature rises, changes in precipitation patterns, changes in severe weather events, and decreased water availability, for example, might all result in lower agricultural production. The fact that most Mediterranean nations rely on imported basic foodstuffs adds to the severity of the situation. Instability and insecurity of agricultural supply in the region might lead to massive population movement, transforming most Mediterranean nations into a global source of instability. Based on the experience of similar geographical locations, the article has highlighted the essential elements affecting crop productivity and the five domains of water, ecosystems, food, health, and security. Despite the region’s complexity, the Mediterranean region has been offered an overall assessment that predicts the best strategy for the best solution. Such an attempt describes a methodical integration of scientific discoveries to understand better the combined hazards illustrated by the fact that CC has affected food production, resulting in widespread insecurity. Utilizing current technologies in agricultural production has been recommended to support regional nations in reaching higher yields. The significance of this study could be realized by mitigating climatic shocks through a sustainable food production system to accomplish development goals in vulnerable nations.

1. Introduction

The Mediterranean is the consequence of rifting, spreading, subduction, and colliding plates and microplates dating back to the Mesozoic [1]. After the Eocene, the African and Eurasian plates, and microplates like the Adria and Anatolia, the Tethys was formed, which became the proto-Mediterranean. Two eastern basins, the Paratethys, progressively split apart after this catastrophe [2]. The Sicily Channel separates the Western Mediterranean from the Eastern Mediterranean.
Historically, the Mediterranean served as significant trade and cultural exchange route between Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. This was contributed by the rise of the Ottoman Empire, which emphasized the development of a network of sea routes to reach the countries of North Africa easily. The second is the Suez Canal, which linked the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean and rekindled some trade between Asian and Mediterranean countries [3]. The Mediterranean region is depicted in Figure 1. The region is in a transition zone between the circulation patterns of mid-latitude and subtropical air. It has a complicated shape with mountain chains and significant differences between land and sea [4].
The main aim of this paper is to assess the impacts of regional climate change on crop yield variations in the Mediterranean region by considering external variables (e.g., technology, genetics, climate, soil, management, fertilizer treatments, irrigation management, and population density) and internal variables (e.g., stability scientific advancements in genetics, agronomy, and resource management strategies) [5].
Weather and climate were the most influential factors influencing agricultural production systems. Temperatures, for example, have been reported to have increased by 0.74 °C on average over the last century, which was caused by more greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere [5]. The 30 years between 1983 and 2012 were the warmest in the Northern Hemisphere in the last eight centuries [4]. It also says that there is evidence of more rain, especially in the Northern Hemisphere’s middle latitudes, with medium confidence since 1901 and high confidence since 1951. These changes significantly affect crop production worldwide [6]. This phenomenon has led to a significant reduction in crop yield, economic losses, and problems meeting the growing population’s feed, fiber, and food production needs. A study has shown, on the other hand, that from 1982 to 1998, negative trends in growing season air temperatures led to up to a 20% increase in maize and soybean yields [7].
To better understand the consequences of these changes, ecological field tests have shown that planting more species increases productivity and stability. In those tests, non-agricultural permanent plants were cultivated in combinations designed to resemble natural ecosystems [8]. However, in contrast to those permanent plants, most crops are annual plants produced in monocultures. This finding found it challenging to think that greater crop variety would result in a more consistent annual “national yield.” The portfolio effect [9] underpins the diversity–stability hypothesis, which predicts the circumstances under which the mean (or total) of random and independent variables gets steadier as the number of variables averaged increases. According to this hypothesis, if a nation has a diverse agricultural mix, the crop mix should be more consistent from year to year [10].
The Mediterranean countries have a common geographical trend as those bordering the Mediterranean Sea from the South, East, and North. However, they are different in atmospheric circulation due to natural topographies and latitudes. These differences result in developing very wet regions and, arid regions on the other side [11]. A study has indicated that rainfall is inconsistent among the Mediterranean countries and, more importantly, in the same country [12]. Simulation studies have shown substantial, statistically significant precipitation in northern countries compared to southern countries [13]. Even though the patterns of change in space have been studied extensively, not many studies investigate the effect of precipitation changes in the 21st century [14]. Notably, until now, no study has been conducted concerning the changes [15]. Meanwhile, it is essential to note that the time of emergence (TOE) explains the scale of any change in the ensemble, as precipitation is more significant than the uncertainty caused by natural variation [16]. The risk assessment is also linked to people’s behavior and the natural environment change. The climate has changed a lot, and its effects have influenced the lifestyle of people [17].
Even though precipitation variability is not the only thing that matters in agriculture, it is crucial as 60–95% of the farming land in the developing world is done so by rainfed agriculture [18]. Statistically, it was found that there is a drop of 0.5% for every percentage point decrease in rainfall [19]. So, it is essential to know what will happen in the future with rain and snow to explain the growing demand for food worldwide [20]. For example, research on the four main crops: wheat, soybeans, rice, and maize, has shown how they usually grow and how the yield could be affected on average [16].
The average annual temperature in the basin is about 1.4 °C, higher than in the late 1800s. This temperature change exceeds the increase of 1.3 to 1.4 °C that was seen around the world [17]. Based on [21], it has been observed that since 1950, heat waves have been happening more often, and droughts are happening more often and worsening. In the last three decades, the surface of the Mediterranean Sea has warmed by about 0.4 °C [22]. Over the last 20 years, the sea level has risen by about 3 cm per decade [23]. This rise is about the same as global trends consistent with the North Atlantic Oscillation’s decadal variability (NAO). This variation is a big jump compared to the years 1945–2000 (0.7 mm per year) and 1970–2006 (1.1 mm per year) [24,25]. According to [26], the pH of seawater in the Mediterranean is dropping by 0.018 to 0.028 pH units per decade.
The Mediterranean region is expected to warm up 25% faster than the rest of the world in the future, and the summer will warm up 40% faster than the global average [27]. Even if the world warms by the “Paris-compliant” 1.5 °C, regional daytime highs are likely to rise by 2.2 °C [28]. This rise will likely mean high temperatures and heat waves will happen more often [29]. Heatwaves can happen anywhere from once every two years to several times yearly in the eastern Mediterranean [30]. A 2 °C rise in the average temperature of the atmosphere around the world will almost certainly cause a 10–15% drop in summer rain in southern France, northwest Spain, and the Balkans, and a 30% drop in Turkey and Portugal [31]. Scenarios in which Southern Europe’s temperatures rise by 2–4 °C in the 2080s would lead to a 30 per cent drop in precipitation (especially in the spring and summer months) and the end of the frost season in the Balkans [32]. For every one degree of global warming, average rainfall will drop by about 4% in most regions, especially in the south. This variation will make dry spells 7% longer [33]. Heavy rain is likely to get 10–20% stronger, except in the summer [34].
The effects of Climate Chane (CC) on people, infrastructure, and ecosystems happen at the same time as other changes in the environment. The number of people living in Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries quadrupled between 1960 and 2015, and the number of people living in cities went from 35% to 64%. Managing agricultural land is getting more complicated, primarily due to better irrigation. Since many southern and eastern land systems have the potential for more yield increases, agricultural management is likely to change even more [35], affecting water resources, biodiversity, and how well landscapes work.
The five critical interrelated impact domains are water resources, ecosystems, food safety and security, health, and human security. Combining them may exacerbate the symptoms or increase the frequency of stress. This consequence will be difficult for less resilient nations to manage. The southern and eastern portions of the basin have the fewest water resources among the Mediterranean nations. Societies in the Mediterranean will have to cope with the reality that all sectors will want more water, and less freshwater will be available [17]. Figure 2 depicts the level of water stress among Mediterranean nations.
Extreme rainfall increases the likelihood of floods [36]. This increase is partially caused by CC, which reveals new challenges that have little to do with weather, such as the expansion of cities and the poor management of stormwater. Observations in the eastern portion of the Iberian Peninsula reveal fewer days with convective and heavy precipitation [37]. Therefore, flood risk projections differ from area to area. On the other hand, flooding risk in most of the Mediterranean Basin is anticipated due to poorly designed stormwater management systems, sealed urban surfaces, and high exposure and vulnerability in flood-prone areas [36]. In the north of Italy, the south of France, and the east of Greece, flooding is anticipated to occur 14 days sooner per decade. They are predicted to occur one day later every decade throughout the north-eastern Adriatic coast, the east of Spain, the southern portion of Italy, and Greece [38].
The Mediterranean countries have about 877 million ha of land, with agriculture accounting for about 28% of the total land area. The share of agricultural land varies significantly across the country, ranging from 4% in Egypt to nearly 76% in Syria [39]. There are a lot of different farm structures, agro-management practices in the agriculture sector, and significant differences in environmental conditions. This means that agricultural inputs (like nutrients, pesticides, and irrigation water) and outputs vary a lot (e.g., crop yields). Only 8% of the agricultural land in the Mediterranean is irrigated. However, this number is uncertain as data for many countries is unavailable or is not up to date [39] (Figure 3).
Figure 4 shows that the introduction discusses five issues related to the title of the manuscript, “Last Decade Assessment of the Impacts of Regional Climate Change on Crop Yield Variations in Mediterranean Region”. The first two topics provide a brief history and location of the study area to draw the readers’ attention to that specific region. The other three topics are related to climate change as presented in the literature: rainfall; climate; and ecology. The outcome of these five topics is to study the crop yield in the region to provide a good estimation or understanding of “food production and security”.
Secondly, based on the details mentioned in the introduction, two main factors (water and temperature) represent the outcome of the climate change “Effects of Climate Change on Mediterranean Region”. These two factors, water and temperature, are commonly used in determining the Standard Precipitation Index (SPI).
Thirdly, “sustainability” has to be discussed as this topic is commonly known as a prerequisite to any future study aiming to solve this type of problem. The authors found five domains to be considered as the pillars of any solution: food security; water resources; managing the ecosystem; human health; and human security.
The rest of the paper includes the following topics: Crop yield security; Variation in crop production in the region; and the developing of a framework, which has to consider introducing “Climate Smart”. The last two topics illustrate the significance of the study and the conclusion.
This paper aims at searching for the following two questions:
  • Question-01: What are the current problems facing the Mediterranean region concerning crop production based on climate change?
  • Question-02: What is the possibility of developing a framework to deal with the influence of climate change to mitigate crop production?

2. Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture in the Mediterranean Region

Mediterranean climatic is very similar to any of the following regions across the globe: California (United States); Central Chile; Cape Region (South Africa); and the southernmost regions (Australia) [called Mediterranean climatic regions (MCRs)]. The five regions constitute 2% of the Earth’s surface area, 20% of the world’s plant species, and 5% of the world’s population. However, just 6% of land in California is utilized for agriculture, whereas 37% of land in Australia and 55% in Chile’s central valley are used for agriculture [40]. Climate change increases the likelihood of drought and high heat, which is detrimental to agriculture in MCRs [41]. In semiarid regions, variable water supplies make it difficult to cultivate crops and have substantial social and economic consequences [42]. To make MCR less susceptible to CC, adjustments must be made to crops (such as annual crops, vegetables, orchards, and vineyards), cropping systems (the sequence of crops and management strategies employed on a particular farm area), and farming systems. Adaptation is altering the environment and its present or anticipated consequences to mitigate or prevent adverse effects and take advantage of positive ones. Numerous technical methods assist crops and agricultural systems to adapt to climate change. A deep understanding of the role of technology in adaptation requires the examination of how technology is used for extension and training [43]. Many rainfalls characterize MCRs in a short time during the year. Furthermore, rainfall in MCRs changes a lot from year to year and from month to month as a result of climate oscillations [44]. In addition to the above characteristics, the temperatures have gone up and rainfall has gone down in MCRs over the past 100 years due to CC [45]. The prediction models of MCRs by the end of the 21st century have shown that MCRs will have even less rain and warmer temperatures [46]. Another study suggested that rain is less often in the winter in MCRs, but in some places, it would rain more heavily [42]. Changes in how much and where it rains, along with high evaporation and transpiration (loss of water vapor through the stomata of plants) in the spring and summer, will cause the MCRs to lose more water over time. Hence, the effect of water and temperature on agriculture will be discussed in the next two sub-sections.

2.1. Effects of Water

Drought stress significantly impacts agricultural productivity [47]. Annual crops, such as cereals, are susceptible to progressive water scarcity during the blossoming and grain-filling phases in rainfed parts of the MCRs and semi-arid tropics, resulting in “terminal drought stress” [48]. During certain phenological times, a lack of water hinders leaf photosynthesis. The creation of photosynthetic was carried directly to the grain [49]. Consequently, the number of grains per spike/pod and grain weight is lowered significantly, resulting in lower grain yields [50]. The harvest index, or the proportion of aboveground biomass allocated to grain, decreases during terminal drought circumstances [51]. Photosynthesis provides activities to restore reserves during pre- and/or post-anthesis stages [41,52]. As a result, when leaf photosynthetic activity diminishes under terminal drought stress, the contribution of stem reserves (mostly water-soluble carbohydrates; WSCs) to grain is critical [48].
The quantity of water available for irrigation in most irrigated MCRs is decreasing due to recurring drought and intense competition for water resources among agriculture, industry, and urban areas. Higher temperatures, on the other hand, increase evapotranspiration and agricultural irrigation needs [53]. As a result, the objective is to reduce irrigation water use and its negative influence on seed/fruit yield and quality. It is well known that the influence of water scarcity on seed/fruit yield and quality varies greatly depending on the crop development stage. Water scarcity impacts the reproductive and seed/fruit development phases more than the vegetative or maturity stages. Water scarcity during the silking-pollination and blister periods of maize, for example, reduces seed set. It enhances grain abortion, leading to significant output losses [54]. In general, water shortages throughout the blooming and fruit development periods result in a more significant decline in fruit yield than shortfalls towards fruit maturity [55].

2.2. Effect of Temperature

MCR temperatures are anticipated to climb by 2–4 °C by the mid-twenty-first century [56]. High temperatures can affect various physiological and metabolic processes in plants, affecting their development, growth, and production. Higher temperatures related to CC have been shown to impair agricultural output and quality [57]. Even mild temperature increases hasten plant growth, shortening the growing season and decreasing plant biomass. Consequently, changes in phenological dates will change the crop season duration and water requirements. Temperatures and evaporation-spiration will rise in areas with warm spring and summer seasons (severe scenario, up to 4 °C) [58]. Warmer weather (moderate scenario, up to 2 °C) may benefit agricultural production when temperature restricts the duration of the growing season [33].

3. Sustainability and the Five Domains

The climate change in the Mediterranean Basin rates may outperform world trends for most variables, including rising temperatures, rainfall, and desertification, with annual mean temperatures currently 1.4 °C above levels from the late nineteenth century. Since 1950, it has been proven that heat waves and severe droughts have increased in frequency [21]. There is evidence that growing salinity variations may impact regional changes in river discharge along the Mediterranean coastlines, leading to a substantial land shift in the basin’s eastern regions. Even though Mediterranean circulation patterns can be altered, global sea-level rise will dominate future Mediterranean Sea-level change [59]. This pattern might result in local height fluctuations of up to 10 cm. Along the Mediterranean coast, increased CO2 absorption by the seas and acidification of 0.15 to 0.41 pH units [60] are anticipated to induce significant impacts.
Aside from these changes, the consequences of CC on people could affect infrastructure and ecosystems. Between 1960 and 2015, the population of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries doubled, while urbanization increased from 35% to 64%. [18]. Due to the possibility of substantial yield gains in many southern and eastern land systems, agricultural land management is increasing, primarily via more excellent irrigation, with ramifications for water resources, biodiversity, and landscape functioning. Despite local advancements in wastewater treatment, air and water pollution continue to grow due to urbanization, traffic, and other factors. Political conflicts have a substantial environmental effect, and migratory pressure continues to affect economies with limited resources, making it more difficult for them to adapt to environmental changes [61].
Environmental, human health, human security, and food security are interconnected aspects of CC. The combination has foreseen the possibility of posing a threat and has taken precautions accordingly. Given the lack of resources, the exposure to all possible dangers is unlikely to be comparable to their overall exposure to any of them individually. The combination, on the other hand, may amplify the intensity impact that induces more frequent and consecutive episodes of stress, thereby worsening the countries’ situation. The five interconnected five domains are discussed in the following sub-topics.

3.1. Water Resources

In the basin’s southern and eastern regions, the nations of the Mediterranean experience severe water shortages. Mediterranean countries have to deal with the difficulty of satisfying rising water needs while having a limited freshwater supply. For every two Celsius of warming and the length of dry spells and droughts, fresh water is expected to go down by 2–15% [33]. Generally, the rivers will flow less, especially in the south and east, where water is in very short supply [62]. Most likely, the water in lakes and reservoirs will go down. Stream flow patterns are likely to change, with high spring flows from melting snow ending earlier, summer low flows getting more robust, and winter flows getting more significant and unpredictable [63]. In the future, the amount of water per person in the Mediterranean, which is already very low, will drop to less than 500 m3 per year. To make sure that aquatic ecosystems work well, it is crucial to meet environmental flow requirements. This outcome means that specific amounts of water will have to be kept in these systems, making them even harder for people to use [64].
Regularly, the coastal parts of the Mediterranean are impacted by flash floods induced by brief, intense rainfall in small catchments [36]. Extreme rainfall events will increase the likelihood of flooding, exacerbated by CC and non-climatic variables such as increased urbanization and inadequate stormwater management systems. Flooding is expected to become more common in many sections of the Mediterranean Basin due to inadequately designed stormwater management systems, impermeable urban surfaces, and people living in flood-prone places [36].

3.2. Managed Ecosystems

The Mediterranean Basin’s forest, wetland, coastal, and marine ecosystems are affected by seasonal fluctuation in the mean temperature and precipitation [56]. The diversity and long-term viability of Mediterranean land ecosystems may be most jeopardized by increased aridity brought on by decreased precipitation and rising temperatures [65]. Greater fire danger, longer fire seasons, and more catastrophic wildfires are predicted due to changing climate, increased heat waves, dryness, and land use [18]. Water levels are also decreasing, and the water quality is deteriorating, significantly impacting freshwater ecosystems [66]. Urbanization, agricultural abandonment, biological invasions, pollution, and overexploitation impact the structure and function of species, populations, communities and terrestrial ecosystems in the area [67]. As a result, the benefits and services of the Mediterranean may be at risk. The changes can be explored in many fields including renewable natural resources (such as food, medicine, and wood), environmental services (such as conservation of biodiversity, soils, and water, regulation of air quality and climate, and carbon storage), and social services (such as recreational, educational, and leisure opportunities, and traditional cultural values) [68].

3.3. Food Production and Security

Agriculture and fisheries are changing Mediterranean food production in social, economic, and ecological ways [69]. As the world’s population grows and diets change, so will the need for food, agricultural products, fish, and animal products. Crop illnesses, yield reductions, and more significant production variability may all occur due to extreme weather events like heat waves, cold snaps, or heavy rainfall during critical phenological stages. Many winter and spring crops, particularly in the southern Mediterranean, are expected to be affected by CC [70].
Olive production will be harmed due to rising irrigation demands due to CC [71]. Local and regional discrepancies will arise, while the influence on aggregate production is not anticipated to be significant [72]. It is anticipated that the phenological cycle of grapevines would shift toward shorter length and earlier blooming, accompanied by increased vulnerability to severe events and water stress [73]. These circumstances may also affect the quality of grapes. Flowering and chilling accumulation are also anticipated to influence fruit tree output [74]. Reduced water, such as in tomatoes, will be the primary factor restricting crop yields [75]. However, water-saving measures might be devised to enhance crops’ quality and nutritional value while maintaining appropriate output levels [76]. Due to CO2-fertilization effects, yield improvements may occur in some crops, which might boost water usage efficiency and biomass output, even though the intricate interactions among the numerous components and the present knowledge gaps suggest significant uncertainty [77]. In addition, these yields are anticipated to decline in quality (e.g., a fall in the protein content of cereals) [78]. In some regions, sea-level rise and ground subsidence may severely diminish agricultural land. The consequences of sea-level rise will impose more restrictions on agricultural land, notably in the Nile Delta and other productive delta regions [79].

3.4. Human Health

Heat, cold, drought, and storms (direct factors) as well as food quality, food availability, pollution, and the affect CC has on social and cultural issues, and the subsequent impact on human health, are all substantial. The degree and timing of the relevant effects vary according to the local environmental circumstances and the population’s susceptibility [18]. Along the Mediterranean Basin’s coastlines and in heavily populated metropolitan areas, there are locations with particularly considerable variations in ambient temperature and significant heatwaves [80].
High ambient temperatures (often coupled with relative humidity) exceed the land’s inherent ability to disperse heat. As a result, heat-related illnesses and deaths are a possibility, with the elderly, youngsters, and people with preexisting or present medical issues being more susceptible [81]. A rise in heatwave severity and frequency, or a shift in seasonality, presents substantial health hazards for vulnerable people, including the poor, those living in inadequate housing, and those with limited access to air conditioning [82].
Temperature-related disease and mortality rates will rise in the Mediterranean region in the coming decades if people do not prepare themselves for CC and public education, while healthcare systems are not up to pace [83]. The health of the elderly in all Mediterranean countries will become more problematic during heat waves as the population’s life expectancy increases. Climate change may affect the spread of vector-borne diseases due to its effects on the life cycles of vector species, pathogenic organisms, and reservoir organisms [84].

3.5. Human Security

As a result of natural disasters, societal unrest, or a combination of the two, people’s safety is at risk [85]. There was an 87% rise in the world’s population between 1970 and 2010; however, the populations in flood plains and cyclone-prone beaches grew by 114% and 198% [86]. More than a third of the inhabitants in the Mediterranean Basin live within walking distance of the sea. As a result of the small tidal range and relatively infrequent storm surges, coastal infrastructure, land use patterns, and human settlements have developed close to mean sea level [87]. Sea-level rise is expected to impact Mediterranean coastal dangers [88] significantly. Wave overtopping is a significant problem in Northern and Southern Mediterranean ports [87]. Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria are among these countries [89]. With rising sea levels and local ground subsidence, port cities with a population in excess of one million may be at greater risk of catastrophic storm surge flooding [90]. By 2050, half of the 20 cities with the most significant yearly increase in damages will be in the Mediterranean, according to lower sea-level rise scenarios and current adaptation efforts [91]. More than 11% of North African countries’ populations would be displaced if sea levels rose by one meter.
As sea levels rise, saltwater intrusion will become more prevalent in coastal areas. Saline intrusion negatively influences around 30% of Egypt’s irrigated crops [92]. Salt-affected soils are found in 60% of the Northern agricultural area and 20% of the Middle and Southern Delta areas. In order to accommodate Egypt’s rising population, the environment is deteriorating [93]. In addition, there is a risk that environmental stressors, such as drought, would exacerbate social unrest and lead to a mass exodus. Then resources would be few, and attempts to reduce one risk may harm human community resilience or worsen other threats. The Mediterranean Basin has traditionally been unstable due to its cultural, geographic, and economic complexity [90].
Human security in the Mediterranean Basin is in danger due to the increased stress from CC, making the region’s residents more vulnerable and raising their level of anxiety [94]. The vulnerability has also been exacerbated by environmental mismanagement and overexploitation. The primary causes are the depletion of natural resources on land and at sea, desertification in the northern hemisphere, and the resulting food shortages (particularly in the Middle East and North Africa) [18].

4. Crop Yield Security in Mediterranean Region

Global food security is one of the most critical problems of the twenty-first century due to its inextricable connection to human welfare. Global agricultural output is increased through technological improvements, new seed and fertilizer variations, and improved farming techniques. Simultaneously, climatic variations, mainly the frequency of extreme weather events and shifting seasons, as well as regional water and energy limitations, are driving yield declines and weakening food security. To make matters worse, the frequency and severity of severe weather events have been predicted to rise due to human-caused global CC [95,96].
Unpredictability and difficulties in managing food security are exacerbated by rising populations, economic crises, and political issues such as sanctions, civil unrest, war, and social strife. Due to civil war in 1994, countries such as Yemen, Rwanda, Afghanistan, and Ghana lost 60% of their crop, resulting in a famine that killed over a million people [97]. In another part of the world, flooding and a lack of trade in North Korea in the 1990s led to famine [98]. Insecurity in the area has led to the recent designation of food insecurity for 17 million Yemenis [99]. In the wake of recent events in Ukraine, more than half of the world’s population might face famine [100]. Global food yields might benefit from a complete knowledge of the implications of CC, technology, and climatic variability on global food production. As a result, it has become imperative to develop procedures that can withstand the varying climates. Additionally, figuring out where to focus our efforts may help us achieve global food, water, and energy sustainability [101].
A broad range of experts have studied climate, weather, and agricultural production [102,103]. On the contrary, Unganai and Kogan [104] used remote sensing data to monitor drought and analyze southern Africa’s climate to predict grain production. In Zimbabwe, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) index could account for up to 60% of the variation in Zimbabwe’s maize production. It could correctly forecast output with a one year lead time [105]. Strong teleconnections exist between the Geopotential Heights (GPH’s) first four essential components and anomalies in European wheat output. In Uganda, there is a cross-sectional database of 927 Ugandan households and a propensity matching score to examine the influence of technological advancement (adoption of improved seeds) on agricultural yields and incomes [102]. Soybean yields in areas of the United States, Brazil, and China were studied using Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) parameter estimate techniques by [103].
Climatic change has been studied using Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) model predictions and historical yield patterns and their ties to important climate factors to determine how it would affect crop yields worldwide. The effects of CC on food production were examined by [104] using the “business as usual” climate scenario, “stabilisation scenarios”, and an “emission scenarios” special report. The findings exhibit a stabilization level of 550 parts per million would reduce most climate-related food production concerns in Africa. It was discovered by [106] that crop responses to climate and atmospheric CO2 variation vary between latitudes and seasons. They found that when temperatures rise, there would be significant negative implications based on ecological and economic modelling framework [107]. Nonetheless, global agricultural yields might be reduced by growing CO2 levels, rising temperatures, and extreme occurrences. As CC affects the food supply, [108] provide a detailed study of the consequences. The meta-analysis shows that there will be between five million and one hundred and seventy million individuals at risk by 2080, depending on socioeconomic development situations.
According to United Nations records dating back to 1961, 245 countries have produced and harvested crops yearly since then [109]. Most countries established after 1961, except those formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, have this data readily accessible. For example, Russia’s agricultural production data is only available for the years following 1992. Complete data is available for 133 countries, with 23 nations having at least 21 years of data [101]. For each country, “the harvested area weighted average yield should be estimated to ensure that the yield for a country ( Y i t ) in terms of the country (i) and year (t), crop (k), total number of crops (NC), reported year ( y i t k ), and the corresponding harvested area ( a i t k ), as shown in Equation (1) [102]:
Y i t = k = 1 N C y i t k a i t k k = 1 N C a i t k

5. Crop Production Variation in Mediterranean Region

Ninety percent of the olive crop’s economic value is derived from the production of olive oil, while the remaining 10% is derived from selling fresh fruit [110]. Early and precise crop forecasting is essential for olive oil marketing, global commercial distribution, and optimizing technological and human resources for harvesting. Before crop harvesting, most estimating methods relied on eye observation. The best estimation of Anemophilous species was characterized by modelling pollen release using an index of blooming intensity and as a bioindicator of fruiting season size [111]. Various methodologies, including Crop Growth Monitoring System (CGMS) models, temporal trends, and satellite observations, have been utilized to anticipate fruit output crop yields [112]. Annual airborne pollen was proven as the best predictor of plant activity during particular phenological phases in anemophilous species [113]. Nonetheless, other external elements, notably the weather, impact several critical processes for fruit production, including pollination, fruit set, fruit fattening, and the environment’s pest resistance. Numerous olive tree crop production studies have coupled climate factors with pollen discharge to obtain more precise findings. To analyze data from three of the world’s leading olive producers—Spain, Italy, and Tunisia—to identify the key factors influencing olive fruit output in the Mediterranean area. These countries often have a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and warm, wet winters where this crop is cultivated. In addition, it has a high degree of seasonal and regional climate variance. In addition, it has been concluded that, in the future, the Mediterranean area will be among those most affected by CC [114].
Agricultural production is shown in Figure 5 to have a significant spatial variation in the Mediterranean region. A wide variety of crops may be grown in a year, such as wheat, barley and rice, as well as a wide variety of vegetables (e.g., potatoes and tomatoes). Rice only accounts for a substantial amount (>3%) in Egypt, Greece, North Macedonia, Portugal, Spain, and Italy, where these four grains account for more than 90% of total grain production. Fruit, olives, grapes, and dates are examples of perennial crops. Approximately 66, 35, 23, 21, and 18 million tons of grains were produced in France, Turkey, Egypt, Spain, and Italy respectively from 2014 to 2018. There are 15–22 million tons of fruit and 13–24 million tons of vegetables produced in Egypt, Italy, Spain, and Turkey.
Despite productivity, wheat yields in the region range from around one to almost seven tons per hectare and have improved over the past several decades [38]. The wheat, maize, and barley yield gap reflect these distinctions [16]. Improved agro-management practices can help decrease the gap in locations where the difference between potential and agricultural produce is substantial. For instance, [115] observed that wheat yields in Morocco might be multiplied by 1.6 to 2.5; in Syria by 1.7 to 2.0, and in Turkey by 1.5 to 3.0. The output of cereals, fruits, and vegetables in Mediterranean nations is depicted in Figure 5a–c.
The Mediterranean food system adds to the ecological deficit, according to [116]. The quantity and nature of each country’s contribution vary. Certain nations (such as Portugal, Greece, Spain, Malta, Croatia, and Italy) are characterized by a high share of meat, dairy, and seafood [117]. Changes in meat consumption in the Mediterranean area during the previous decade (2000–2013) were inconsistent, with twelve countries displaying a substantial rise, six a considerable decrease, and the other states demonstrating a steady trend. For fish, fourteen countries show considerable growth, two countries show a significant decrease, and the other countries show a trend of stability.
The Mediterranean area has grown more imbalanced in nitrogen (N) import, with most nations being importers [118]. Separating crop and animal production systems diminished fertilizer efficiency and caused difficulties relating to a scarcity of manure on crops and an abundance of manure on livestock farms [118]. Regulating the increased manure output is complex, and excessive manure application in regions next to high-density livestock systems can have disastrous environmental repercussions. Consequently, several studies have estimated a substantial danger of watershed contamination [119].

6. Climate Smart Approach

Eight hundred million people in Asia, the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa remain malnourished despite the rise in global food production during the previous three decades [120]. To keep up with population and economic growth, global food production must double by 2050 [121], with the bulk of the increase coming from Asia and Africa. Population expansion, widespread poverty, and poor agricultural productivity characterize these areas. The problem is made worse by global warming. Climate-smart agriculture is vital to preventing famine in nations with high fertility and severe poverty.
Climate change is expected to alter agricultural production systems globally, putting billions of people’s livelihoods and food security at risk [122]. Agricultural production would be negatively impacted by rising temperatures, shifting precipitation patterns, and more frequent and severe floods and droughts [106]. Some agricultural output losses might be as high as 60% due to CC, depending on the crop type, location and weather patterns [13]. Nearly one-third of yield variation is attributed to CC, which might significantly impact agricultural production and food security [19]. An estimated 19–29% of GHG emissions are attributed to the agricultural food system, which is vulnerable to global CC and the second most significant contributor to its causes.
Many methods exist to lower agricultural emissions, minimize the adverse effects of CC, and increase agricultural systems’ resilience. Agricultural management, such as sowing dates, cropping practices, and land usage must be adjusted to account for CC. Farm income and input-use efficiency (and GHG emission) reductions may be improved by a wide range of agricultural technology and practices [123].
New technology adoption has been hindered by a dearth of evidence from development practitioners on how innovations may be effectively applied to agricultural systems. They must know how farmers may maximize synergies while minimizing tradeoffs when adopting different treatments on real farms. Climate change adds to the problem since it has different effects on various geographical regions. Therefore, an integrated approach to implementation is needed that incorporates research, technology, and decision-making with local socioeconomic and cultural contexts [59].
Climate-smart villages (CSVs) are being used by the Consultative Group from the International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) to gather data on the effectiveness of climate-smart solutions in Asia, Africa, and Latin America [124]. Essential elements of the CSV approach include the following. The CSA’s accomplishments in terms of the necessary practice, technology, and policies to tackle CC should serve as a psychological springboard for the rest of the process. Analytical work is the next step in constructing a CC prediction system. The third phase is scientific knowledge of socioeconomic, gender, and biophysical constraints. Natural experimentation is the last and most important phase. Adoption incentives, finance options, institutional arrangements and procedures for scaling up and down are tested to ensure compatibility with local and national knowledge, institutions and development objectives, while identifying the most effective.
It is the goal of the Seed/Breed Innovative Initiative to find adaptive varieties and breeds as well as seed banks and community activities. Agroforestry, minimum tilling, land use systems, livestock management, integrated nutrient management, and biofuels are examples of carbon/nutrient-smart practices. Lastly, inter-sectoral connections are an intelligent practice. These include local institutions, learning platforms or farmer-to-farmer learning and capacity building, emergency planning, financial services, market information, gender equitable methods, and measures for off-farm risk administration [124].

7. Developing Framework for Climate Change Consequences

Human activities and natural ecosystems create new hazards in addition to old ones, such as droughts, floods, heat waves, and wildfires in the Mediterranean area. Moreover, as seen in Figure 6, the Mediterranean area is anticipated to be one of the most notable and sensitive “hot zones” for CC due to increasing water stress concerns, desertification, erosion, and land and marine biodiversity reduction.
According to the IPCC, the region is projected to warm faster than the world average and might experience a 30–40% decrease in precipitation, particularly in the southern portion of the Mediterranean basin and throughout the spring and summer. Consequently, water stress and drought will worsen over the majority of the region, making it drier and decreasing the amount of food that can be cultivated. It is anticipated that summers in the Mediterranean will become substantially hotter and drier. This consequence implies that heat waves will get more intense and endure longer, and the risk of persistent wildfires may grow. The rising temperatures might also facilitate the spread of illnesses such as malaria to additional areas. Lastly, a rising sea level might have substantial consequences on already vulnerable areas such as the Nile Delta [122].
The updated Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development places climate risk management and effective adaptation to the challenges of CC at the center of Mediterranean sustainable development. The Regional Framework for Adaptation to CC, designed by the Mediterranean Plan of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP/MAP), has adjusted for these concerns. To promote the implementation of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) protocol, a regional initiative on incorporating Climate Variability and Change (CVC) into national policies for ICZM should begin [125].
Figure 6 displays the bulk of the essential expected changes in the Middle East climate to understand the region’s climate state better. It has been predicted that the Mediterranean region is warming 20% faster than the world average, putting extra strain on already stressed ecosystems and societies. The Mediterranean region is more susceptible to natural catastrophes like floods and erosion, salinization of river deltas, and aquifers, which are crucial for food security and the lives of those in the region.
Increasing global temperatures by 2 °C would diminish precipitation by 10% to 15% by 2050, while water demand is anticipated to treble. In Southern Europe, a 2 °C to 4 °C increase in temperature is projected to diminish precipitation by up to 30%. Between 1.8 °C and 3.5 °C of the sea, a temperature increase is anticipated by 2100, with Spain and the Eastern Mediterranean as the most vulnerable areas.
Addressing the consequences of CC is frequently defined in terms of adaptation and mitigation. Mitigation includes, but is not limited to, reductions in source-specific emissions and geoengineering in order to reduce CC effects. On the other hand, adaptation comprises attempts to reduce susceptibility to the consequences of CC through various means without necessarily addressing the underlying source of those impacts. Adapting to avoid catastrophic ecosystem collapses and the loss of ecosystem services is possible. Figure 7 shows a potential structure for mitigation and adaptation under government restrictions. As the scientific community and United Nations organizations have established, mitigation involves human-related concerns that should lead to addressing the consequences of climate change. In addition, adaptation must be designed to mitigate the impacts of the vulnerabilities. Mitigation and adaptation address the two critical concerns of impacts and vulnerabilities. These stages are as follows: recognizing the issues; assessing the early consequences; attaining autonomous adaptation; and determining the residual and net impact [126].

8. Significance of the Review

Numerous publications have examined or investigated the effects of CC on socio-economic standards of living. Recent accelerated CC has exacerbated existing environmental concerns in the Mediterranean Basin, resulting from changes in land use, increased pollution, and dwindling biodiversity. This review made a concerted attempt to synthesize existing scientific knowledge across disciplines to understand better the risks posed by their combination [20]. Despite recent advances, there remains a paucity of research devoted to developing and enhancing modelling capacities to increase agricultural output by adopting strategies that consider the sustainability of ecosystems under changing climatic circumstances. Opportunities to advance the multiscale crop modelling framework are identified by [127]. The framework includes crop genetic traits, interfacing crop models with large-scale models, improving the representation of physiological responses to CC and management practices, closing data gaps, and leveraging multisource data.
Increasing weather threats endanger agricultural production systems and global food security. Maintaining agricultural expansion while mitigating climate shocks is essential for developing a resilient food production system and achieving development objectives in fragile nations. Several technological, institutional, and regulatory initiatives have been proposed by experts to help farmers adapt to current and future weather variability and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The analysis seeks to scale up and scale down the suitable solutions and draw lessons for policymakers at the local to international levels.
In another direction, the climate’s variability and effect on global crop yields and, in particular, the countries of the Mediterranean basin in terms of the national food production, evident climate variability, and extensive irrigation have been highlighted [4]. For these purposes, a proposed framework showing a variety of variables of climate changes on crop production has been developed, in which the most critical factors were highlighted.

9. Conclusions

The traditional agricultural production systems and global food security are threatened by ongoing climate change. Hence, maintaining agricultural growth under climate shocks is essential for establishing a sustainable food production system for fragile nations. Experts have advocated several technological, institutional, and regulatory strategies to aid farmers in adjusting to present and future weather unpredictability and lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Global agricultural output has increased over the last several decades due to utilizing technological advancements despite the threats of population increase, water shortage and CC influence. Based on this approach, investigating the links between agricultural output variations and several global and regional climatic conditions have become essential to obtain a better prediction.
Changes in the present and future estimates for five broad and interconnected impact domains (water, ecosystems, food, health, and security) will be escalating threats in the following decades. Policies for sustainable development in Mediterranean countries must reduce these risks and seek adaptation options. Nonetheless, there is a paucity of evidence, especially for the most susceptible southern Mediterranean civilizations, where fewer systematic observation systems and impact models exist. A systematic effort is underway to integrate current scientific findings from other domains to understand the combined risks [17] better. Recent achievements have not successfully created a model correlating the increasing agricultural production while addressing the sustainability of ecosystems under varying climatic conditions. However, some opportunities could help achieve a potential model by considering crop genetic traits and good management practices. Under changing climatic conditions and improved multiscale crop modelling, a framework will allow for designing strong and sustainable regional and global agricultural production systems [127]. Such a model focuses on local climatic risk management by recognizing the possibility of adaptation and tradeoffs [124].
The urgency of adaptation, and the fact that the quantity of mitigation varied by location [16], could shed light on improving the crops, especially for those that have priority over others, such as wheat, soy, rice, and corn, which account for around 40% of global daily calorie consumption per capita [123].

Author Contributions

H.A.A. wrote the initial draft and prepared the materials. Z.H.A. and F.M.M. repeatedly revised the manuscript to the final version. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Production and import data reviewed and analyzed in this study are publicly available on World Bank: Authors accessed the datasets in October 2022.


The authors would like to thank World Bank and Free Worlds Map for offering free cloud data/map to public.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors have no relevant financial or non-financial interests to disclose.


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Figure 1. Mediterranean countries. Source: (accessed on 9 September 2022).
Figure 1. Mediterranean countries. Source: (accessed on 9 September 2022).
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Figure 2. Freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources in 2019. Source of data: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Figure 2. Freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources in 2019. Source of data: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
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Figure 3. Total agricultural land and total irrigated land in the Mediterranean countries. Source of data: World Bank.
Figure 3. Total agricultural land and total irrigated land in the Mediterranean countries. Source of data: World Bank.
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Figure 4. Flowchart of the topics included in the review paper.
Figure 4. Flowchart of the topics included in the review paper.
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Figure 5. Crop production in (a) North Africa, (b) East Mediterranean, and (c) South Europe. Data source: World Bank.
Figure 5. Crop production in (a) North Africa, (b) East Mediterranean, and (c) South Europe. Data source: World Bank.
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Figure 6. Climate change in the Mediterranean. Source: [39].
Figure 6. Climate change in the Mediterranean. Source: [39].
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Figure 7. Possible framework showing variety of variables of climate changes on crop production. Source: [126].
Figure 7. Possible framework showing variety of variables of climate changes on crop production. Source: [126].
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Alrteimei, H.A.; Ash’aari, Z.H.; Muharram, F.M. Last Decade Assessment of the Impacts of Regional Climate Change on Crop Yield Variations in the Mediterranean Region. Agriculture 2022, 12, 1787.

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Alrteimei HA, Ash’aari ZH, Muharram FM. Last Decade Assessment of the Impacts of Regional Climate Change on Crop Yield Variations in the Mediterranean Region. Agriculture. 2022; 12(11):1787.

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Alrteimei, Hanan Ali, Zulfa Hanan Ash’aari, and Farrah Melissa Muharram. 2022. "Last Decade Assessment of the Impacts of Regional Climate Change on Crop Yield Variations in the Mediterranean Region" Agriculture 12, no. 11: 1787.

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