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Greece faces hottest winter, igniting worries of summer wildfires

Greek scientists report that Greece has experienced its hottest winter on record, prompting concerns about the upcoming summer’s potential for devastating wildfires. Analyses conducted by the National Observatory of Athens reveal that from December to February, the average peak temperature reached 11.3 degrees Celsius (52.3 degrees Fahrenheit), surpassing the 1960-2024 average winter temperatures by 1.8 degrees. Some regions in northern Greece experienced spikes of 7-8 degrees higher than usual.

Greece faces hottest winter, igniting worries of summer wildfires

The data, sourced from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, marks the warmest winter since records began in 1936. This trend is consistent with six of Greece’s warmest winters occurring within the last decade. Konstantinos Lagouvardos, research director at the national observatory, emphasized the prolonged periods of above-normal temperatures, stating, “This is a new reality, and we must take it seriously. Climate change is undoubtedly here.”

The alarming data raises significant concerns for Greece, a country already heavily impacted by climate change. Last summer, wildfires claimed the lives of at least 20 individuals, underscoring the urgent need for effective climate resilience strategies. Additionally, unprecedented autumn rains led to widespread destruction of homes, farmlands, and crops, highlighting the vulnerability of Europe’s climate defenses. The adverse effects of the warm winter extend beyond environmental impacts, affecting economic sectors such as tourism and agriculture. Ski resorts experienced below-average snowfall, jeopardizing the winter sports industry.

Farmers, particularly olive producers, face challenges as the lack of a proper winter disrupts the natural flowering cycle, potentially impacting yields. Michalis Antonopoulos, head of the Agriculture Cooperative of Kalamata, expressed concerns about the premature flowering of trees, stating, “The lack of a proper winter will create problems for sure.” The global context further amplifies the gravity of Greece’s situation, as last year marked the planet’s hottest on record. Copernicus data indicates that this trend is likely unprecedented in the last 100,000 years.

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