NEWS

Figures confirm chilly fears

Suspicions that winters have been gradually getting colder in Greece were confirmed by data released yesterday that showed that temperatures last month were among the lowest recorded in January in the last 100 years. Figures from the Athens Observatory showed that wind temperatures also dipped last month to 7.5 Celsius (45.5 Fahrenheit) versus an average figure of 9.3C (48.7F) during the previous 100 years. «The wind temperature is the most basic factor that determines a region’s climate as this influences our daily lives,» Dr Harry Kambezidis, research director at Athens Observatory’s Institute of Environmental Research and Sustainable Development, told Kathimerini. «The warmest January was in 1936 when the temperature showed an average of 17.1C (62.7F)… while the coldest was in 2000 with an average minimum temperature of 0.2C (32.6F),» he added. Another concern for the rapidly changing environment is the drop in the number of rainy days that have resulted in heavier rainfall and increased the risk of flooding. Heavy rain often brings Athens to a standstill, disrupting traffic as the city’s drainage pipes become clogged with tons of street rubbish. Recent weather changes have caught some state officials largely unprepared, as the country has had to deal with cold snaps that are uncommon in this part of the Mediterranean. Snowfall hit Athens on two separate occasions in January with another two potentially chilly months still ahead this year. Poor city planning and the continual decrease in trees and other greenery have also hurt the climate and made Athens a hotter place to live in during the summer. According to Kambezidis, annual wind temperatures in Athens have, on average, risen due to the decline in trees and parks which help cool the city during the hot summer nights. «The rises (in wind temperatures) reflect the impact from the city expanding and particularly the growth of housing at the cost of the greener areas, such as parks and recreation areas,» he added.