Unprecedented heatwave across Europe as Greece facing wildfire
Monday, July 24, 2023
Extreme weather is wreaking havoc across Europe, with Greece experiencing a historic heatwave and flames raging across numerous regions. The Greek Ministry of Civil Protection has issued a red alert for wildfires in 13 departments, including the Attica area, which includes Athens, the country’s capital city. This red alert denotes the greatest level of concern owing to the significant risk of fire. The wildfire also leads to flight cancellation.
As temperatures rise, viewing hours for renowned Athens monuments such as the Acropolis and other archaeological sites have been reduced to guarantee tourist safety. However, employees at several of these locations have gone on strike to protest their working conditions in the middle of the inclement weather.
Greece is projected to see an unprecedented 15 to 16 days of continuous heatwave, according to Kostas Lagouvardos, Director of Research at the National Observatory of Athens. This extended heatwave has the potential to break the previous record of 12 days set in July 1987. Lagouvardos goes on to say that temperatures in Athens may even beat the city’s all-time high of 44.8 degrees Celsius (112.64 degrees Fahrenheit), set in June 2007.
Extreme weather is not restricted to Greece; huge sections of the northern hemisphere are experiencing blistering temperatures and major swings in weather patterns. Tennis-ball-sized hail created havoc in Italy’s northern Veneto region, hurting at least 110 people and destroying property, while Rome achieved a record-breaking temperature of 41 degrees Celsius. Earlier this year, Italy saw severe floods, compounding the region’s weather troubles.
Severe thunderstorms have also claimed lives and caused major damage in the Balkans. Such episodes serve as a harsh warning that as the earth warms, extreme weather events may become more common and intense.
Scientists and geologists are warning that these catastrophic weather occurrences may only be a taste of what is to come if global warming is not tackled immediately. As catastrophic heatwaves, wildfires, floods, and other weather extremes continue to be a result of climate change, it is critical for governments and individuals to take proactive efforts to lessen the effect and strive towards a more sustainable and resilient future.
Image Credit: REUTERS/Costas Baltas