Mediterranean turning into real hotspot

Mediterranean turning into real hotspot

It used to be that, in Greek summers, temperatures, with few exceptions, used to peak at around 33 degrees Celsius (92F), ideal for beachgoers and other holidaymakers, domestic and foreign.

But heatwaves have become increasingly frequent since the late 1950s and this trend is accelerating.

The answer is simple, even if many persist in denying it: climate change, caused by human activity.

Climate scientists call the Mediterranean a “hotspot” because, in addition to rising temperatures, it will be among the few places on Earth where it will get drier – significantly so – as well as warmer. 

As far as Athens is concerned, while there are fewer rainy days, rainfall has increased. Much of the rain now falls in sudden downpours that cause floods.

While there is no universally acceptable definition of a heatwave, Greece’s National Meteorological Service has one: at least three consecutive days with a maximum temperature above 39C (102.2F) and a minimum temperature above 26C (78.8F).

Heatwave intensity and duration have increased in Athens over the past three decades. The most intense heatwave occurred in 1987 – when over 1,300 people died – 2007 and 2021. This last heatwave has lasted nine days, with the highest daily maximum at 43.9C and the highest daily minimum at 36.5C.

If the present heating of the planet stays constant, more intense and frequent heatwaves will occur. In the worst-case scenario presented by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Greece might experience, by mid-century, at least four additional annual heatwave episodes, with parts of southern Greece going through eight additional episodes. 

Athens is not expected to experience 50C before the end of the century; but that doesn’t mean comfortable, or even tolerable, conditions. 

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.