NEWS

Effects on human activities and settlements

Energy demands are expected to increase by 5 percent in Greece throughout the year, in addition to what will be needed for growth. This could rise to 13-23 percent in summer months. Also expected to have a major effect is the reduced capability on the part of hydroelectric stations due to up to 50 percent less rainfall. At present, the Public Power Corporation operates 15 major hydroelectric projects with a total capacity of 3,017.8 megawatts and plans seven more over the next few years of a total 622 MW. In 2005, the country’s total hydroelectric power output was 5.6GMh, amounting to 10 percent of total power production. «Productivity at the hydroelectric plants on the Acheloos and Aliakmonas rivers is expected to drop by 30-50 percent,» said Sevastianos Mirasgentis of the National Observatory. In other places, this percentage is likely to be as high as 70 percent due to reduced rainfall in particular regions. Around places such as Lake Plastiras, however, there is likely to be less of a decrease. The researchers emphasized that increased demands for power in summer will have to be met, but on the other hand, demand in winter is likely to be lower. 2. Farming Corn, wheat, cotton and vines comprise 43 percent of farmland in Greece (in Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, Epirus and the Peloponnese). Corn production is likely to be reduced by up to 55 percent between 2071 and 2100 depending on the varieties being cultivated. As for wheat, there will be a greater range of differences (67 percent reduction to 15 percent increase) as wheat fields often are not irrigated and are affected by drought. Regarding cotton crops, production is likely to vary between a drop of 29 percent to 21 percent. «It is relatively easy to make changes to farming, such as changing the sowing dates and using different varieties that are better adapted to hotter climates,» said researcher Mary Vitaliotou. 3. Water resources According to another of the researchers, Ilias Tarnaras, current scenarios regarding temperature rises of 3.5 degrees, will mean Athens will have 50 percent less water than it needs to supply its inhabitants. An examination of the expected changes to the availability of water resources for the Mornos, Evinos and Viotiko Kifissou catchment areas found that annual requirements for Athens are now 400 million cubic meters of water a year under current conditions. The researchers found that the total volume of water will be about 125.4 million cubic meters; and, according to the best case scenarios, could be 202.6 cubic meters. If infrastructure projects are undertaken to allow the use of the water sources in the three catchment areas, the total volume of water available will not be more than 321.5 million cubic meters, that is far less than will be required. 4. Coastal areas Sea levels are expected to rise by about 60 centimeters according to the most optimistic forecasts, yet scientists emphasize that an increase of one or two meters is not unrealistic. Overall, Greece will lose between 31,000 and 56,000 hectares of its land to flooding. Although a comparatively small area, at local level the negative effects are expected to be considerable. The estimated sea level rises naturally apply worldwide; the effects in each region will depend on local conditions. In Greece, the deltas of the Evros and Nestos rivers are most likely to be affected, as well as the Thermaic Gulf, the islands of the Pagasitic Gulf, the Amvrakikos Gulf, the Aitolikos and Mesolongi lagoons, the Kyllini Gulf and the islands of Crete, Rhodes, Corfu and Lemnos. The main effects on the coasts, apart from flooding, are erosion, the increased salinity of river deltas and a deterioration of water quality. Worst-case scenarios that include the melting of the Greenland icecap mean that the sea level could rise by about 7 meters.