Climate change is affecting Greece, adding more very hot days and less very cold nights in every year from now on, according to a study by the National Observatory of Athens, published in the International Journal of Climatology.
The study shows that in general the thermal bioclimate of the Mediterranean – not only of Greece – has undergone significant heating during the last 30 years. Despite the fact that Greece was not affected by the strong heat wave that has hit Central and Western Europe in recent days, it remains one of Europe’s most vulnerable countries to climate change.
A significant increase has been recorded in the number of “hot days” (days when one feels discomfort due to the heat), with an average rate of five extra days per decade. Greater growth trends occur in western and northern Greece.
In Ioannina, for example, “hot days” are rising at a rate of six days per decade. In the already vulnerable to the heat city of Larissa and Thessaly in general, the growth rate reaches four days every decade, as happens in Attica. Growth rates in Crete and Rhodes are significantly smaller (two and three days respectively), which is largely attributed to the beneficial effects of the seasonal northern winds.
At the same time, there is a corresponding reduction in the number of “cold nights” (nights that one feels cool/cold) at an average rate of seven nights per decade. In other words, the nights in Greece become warmer, significantly limiting the intervals in which one can be relieved by the sensation of heat.
The biggest decreases in cold nights are found in southern Greece. In Rhodes and Crete, for example, “cold nights” are decreasing at a rate of ten and nine per decade respectively. In Attica, their decline is eight days per decade, compared to five in Larissa and Thessaloniki.
The study was based on high-resolution numerical climate simulations and by applying a specialized human-biometeorological model, the characteristics and trends of human-bioclimatic conditions in the Mediterranean were studied during the period 1987-2016.
In particular, the physiologically equivalent temperature (PET), which assesses how hot or cold (thermal sensation) one feels and how much the body charges (thermal load), taking into account the influence of meteorological conditions (temperature, humidity, wind, radiation) and the characteristics of the individual (age, sex, metabolism, etc.).