Warming risk for north

The impact of climate change on Greece will be most severe in the country’s north, where temperatures are expected to rise by an average of 3 degrees Celsius over the next 25 years, while southern parts will be the worst hit by desertification, an eminent Greek scientist has told Kathimerini. Global warming will curb rainfall and fuel forest fires in Greece, according to Christos Zerefos, the president of the National Observatory in Athens and one of two Greek scientists awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with dozens of foreign colleagues, for their efforts to combat climate change. «From 2031 until 2060, Greece will see its rainfall dwindle by 25 percent, its sea level rise up to 20 centimeters and the period of risk for forest fires increase by up to three weeks,» Zerefos told Kathimerini. People will need 25 percent less energy for heating but 100 percent more energy for cooling, he said. Temperature rises will be larger in the northern mainland due to its distance from the sea and relative lack of wind – both cooling factors. Temperatures are forecast to rise by 3 degrees Celsius over the next 25 years, double the projected rise of 1.5 degree Celsius in southern Greece. However the country’s southeast, and many of the islands, will be hard hit by desertification, Zerefos said. The period between 2070 and 2100 will see intense desertification, according to research to be made public today at a seminar in Thessaloniki. A group of scientists, including Zerefos and experts from NASA, tried to assess the impact of climate change in the region by studying meteorological changes between 1961 and 1990. «All scenarios foresee a drop in rainfall,» Zerefos said. In a related development, the Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage unveiled a detailed proposal for the creation of a separate environment ministry. Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias has vowed to create a separate ministry within 18 months. Zerefos said this would be «useful but not a panacea.» Qualified experts and good cooperation with other ministries are more important, he said.