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Warmer climate increases wildfire risk, as in Greece

Chips of soot sings in the smoky air as the ferry approaches the island of Evia, north of Athens. The fires in the northern part of Greece’s second largest island are out of control and continue to spread.

The evacuation process has been going on for several days, but the evacuation orders were extended on Sunday to include several places threatened by fire. The ferries were taken to the port of Arkitsa on the mainland. A navy ship is anchored in the strait.

Thousands of people of all ages, alone or in company, in cars or on foot, some with dogs under their arms, all carrying bags with their belongings that they managed to escape from the flames.

By Sunday, more than 1,460 square kilometers had already burned on the island, an area larger than the Åland region. In total, more than 3,500 square kilometers have now been burned in Greece, an area larger than the entire area of ​​Gotland.

The surface that has burned so far During the summer of this year more than have been burned in the past five years in the country.

The fires came after the country’s largest heat wave in thirty years. For more than ten days the temperature has been about 40 degrees or more.

– We’re not surprised. In Greece, we have measurement data going back more than 150 years. We can see that since 1970, our average annual temperature has risen by 1.5 degrees, says Evangelos Gerasopoulos, head of the National Observatory of Athens and a member of the Greek Climate Policy Council.

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Evangelos Gerasopoulos, Director of the National Observatory of Athens and member of the Greek Climate Policy Council.

Photo: private

The increase in temperature varies with the seasons, the greatest being during the summer.

So the increase is more than 1 degree per decade. So now the average temperature every summer is 3-4 degrees higher than it was thirty years ago. This is a big difference.

Evangelos Girasopoulos says that in 2007 a new temperature record was set in the country that ranged between 46-47 degrees Celsius. Now, 14 years later, temperatures in Greece are around 45 degrees for several days in a row, not just one.

It is a new but predictable phenomenon in relation to climate change.

And the temperatures are coming to continue to rise in the future.

– In our models, we can see that the temperature intensity continues to increase. In 30 years, we will have 50 days a year when the temperature is above 35 degrees. It’s too hot, says Evangelos Gerasopoulos.

Ten years ago we talked about temperatures like severe weather, and now we have them like daily weather.

Change increases the risk of fires. Higher temperatures and lower humidity make the forest drier. Dry forest ignites more easily and fires develop faster.

The fire season is getting longer. Previously it was in July and August, now it can start in June and last until October. All of these changes point to climate change. Last week, the European Union’s environment and climate monitoring programme, Copernicus, reported the following: The Mediterranean region has become the epicenter of forest fires.

10-15 years ago Evangelos Gerasopoulos has been involved in a research project that looked at how fires could occur in the future with climate change.

We saw that the flames would be much higher and the speed of development and spread of fire would be much faster. It’s really happening, you see the flames are high and the speed of the fire spreading is appalling.

On Evia, Yianna Eyripidou, Maria and Ioannis Colias go on the ferry to the mainland and sit next to each other on the tires. They had planned a vacation on the island but were notified in their cell phones that the fire was approaching, so they had to leave the island.

They don’t know each other before.

– But when there is a disaster, we are all friends, says Yianna Eyripidou.

pure smell of fire, Ash husks sing as messengers of the apocalypse and fire greedily devour nature, animals, and homes on the other side of the island.

Premonition of what awaits in the climate crisis. The escape posed by climate-related extremes.

We are already living in the future that we saw several years ago in our climate models, says Evangelos Gerasopoulos.

Read more:

The sisters had to flee to the beach to escape the fire