Scientists have warned that Greece may experience the hottest summer ever as Spain and Portugal, are bracing for an early heatwave with temperatures possibly very close to 40 C (104 F) at the end of April.
“It is possible that we will have the hottest summer ever,” said Efthymios Lekkas, a professor of Geology and Natural Disaster Management at Athens University.
“All over the world, the outlook for next summer is ominous. And this is underlined by the high temperatures which currently exist in Spain, and in other parts of the world. The Eastern Mediterranean is the most sensitive region. All of this is part of what we call the climate crisis,” he told Mega TV on Tuesday.
Lekkas said there will be more intense phenomena with a longer duration. “What concerns us is the continuous increase in temperature, over time, in a decade to fifteen years. The general picture should not escape us”, he stressed.
Especially for Greece, the professor emphasized: “The major problem is to preserve the surface water, but mainly the underground water. In Mykonos, at the moment there are thousands of boreholes, which pump as much water as they can pump, but within two years we will have waterlogging, that is, seawater will pollute the wells. This is an irreversible phenomenon.”
One of the most significant factors contributing to heat waves in Greece is climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reported that the likelihood of heatwaves occurring in the Mediterranean region will increase due to global warming. The IPCC has also projected an increased frequency and intensity of heat waves in the coming years.
Greek scientists say that the rise of temperature, prolonged periods of drought, and severe flooding due to rapid rainfall make up a horror scenario for the near future.
A recent study by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki estimates that the number of days with a temperature above 35 degrees Celsius will increase by up to 16 days a year in some areas of Greece by 2050, which, combined with negative rainfall indicators, is expected to seriously affect key Greek crops.
As Costas Lagouvardos, meteorologist and director of research at the National Observatory of Athens, points out, since 2011 the temperature in Greece has exceeded the average value of 14.2° C every year, with a record in the years 2017 and 2018 which reached 15° C.
“Two phenomena are observed in our country: one is that we have a great increase in temperature. This increase is not the same everywhere, it varies between 1 and 1.5° C. In Athens, for example, it is of the order of +1.5° C.
“The second is that while the annual amount of rain remains constant, we have a decrease in the number of days with precipitation. That is, we have fewer rainy days and when it rains, it rains a lot. Fewer days of rain mean longer periods of drought and at the same time a risk of flooding and problems for agriculture,” Lagouvardos said speaking at Ta Nea daily.
Greece has experienced an average of 0.7 heatwaves per year from 1950 to 2020, but this average value has increased to 1.1 heatwaves per year from 1990 to 2020, according to a recent study.
The study published in the international scientific journal “Climate” says that there is a generally increasing trend in all characteristics of heat waves, including intensity, duration, and frequency of occurrence during the period 1950-2020.
The areas of Greece that experience at least one heat wave per year have almost doubled since 1990.