Sea-level rise and drought are two top climate change dangers for Greece, expert says

Greece’s extensive coastline makes it extremely vulnerable to the rising sea levels predicted by climate change scientists, while the amount of rainfall in the country could be up to 9 pct less, Prof. Athanasios Argyriou of the Patras University physics department told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA).

In an interview published on Easter Monday, Prof. Argyriou said that climate change was expected to bring about multiple changes in Greece, with both an indirect and direct impact on the country.

With sea levels predicted to rise between 0.2 and 2.0 metres, many areas on Greece’s coast will be directly affected, while temperatures will increase by 3-4.5 degrees centigrade, rainfall will be 5-9 pct less and the intensity of both sun and winds will be stronger.

Though the last two factors could help the country increase its production of solar and wind energy, he said, this will be offset by indirect deleterious effects on agriculture, tourism, transport and health, with the climate becoming more favourable for disease vectors, such as mosquitoes and parasites.

Efforts to protect human lives and property should primarily concentrate on policies to reduce the causes of climate change, he added, while noting that this effort had two parts: “On the one hand, there must be an immediate implementation of these policies on a national level while, on the other hand, Greece must exert political pressure through international organisations for the strict implementation of environmental protection policies.”

He also advised constant improvements to the country’s health and prevention infrastructure, so that it can cope with the added burden on public health. Another issue that he raised during a recent seminar at Patras University was that the “smart climate management” and good water management.

“This can be done by developing services and increasing the number of scientists involved in meteorology, since climate is the first step for creating smart-climate societies”. He pointed out that the quality of the weather data in many countries did not permit the advanced climate services needed to take political decisions and to organise the actions of various agencies.

Referring to agriculture, he said this was a very good example of a sector that was very sensitive to climate change, where climate science and meteorology could significantly help in providing early warning of pending food shortages.

“Agrometeorologists can provide information on weather trends many months ahead and, as a result, allow the smart climate management that will allow farmers to decide which type of crops to plant, when to plant them, how much irrigation will be needed and when to harvest,” he explained.