The Third Ministerial Conference of the Union for the Mediterranean was held in Zagreb in early May. Although this topic only partially concerns Crete, it is worth discussing.
Most of us surely know that in recent years Greece and other countries of the Mediterranean basin experience increasingly warmer temperatures during the summer months. In the case of the Greek islands, the combination of heat and strong winds is unfortunately also a recipe for catastrophic fires. Not only Crete or other Greek islands, but also other countries in this region fight this element every year. It is no better in winter, when the south of Europe is hit by waves of frost and heavy snowfall, and in autumn, when violent storms cause rapid flooding. When situations like this arise, everyone asks themselves: what is going on?
At the aforementioned conference, conclusions from climate observations were made available, which explain these weather phenomena that are increasing over time. It turns out that the Mediterranean region is warming 20% faster compared to the global average . This is one of the reasons why this area is particularly vulnerable to climate change and, consequently, more and more extreme weather phenomena. The reason for the faster warming of the climate in this part of Europe lies in the cities, and the Mediterranean basin has one of the fastest rates of urbanization in the world.
As if to confirm the conclusions of this conference, a report was published in Greece, which is the first attempt to assess the country's climate situation. Below we present some of the most important conclusions from this report.
2022 was the eighth warmest year in the past 30 years. The year 2020 turned out to be a record year in this respect. The largest deviations were recorded in the western areas of mainland Greece and in the areas of northern Crete.
As for the amount of precipitation, 2022 was one of the driest years in the last three decades. The record in this respect again belongs to 2020, and the wettest year was 2009.
In terms of sea water temperature, 2022 was the tenth warmest year since 1991. Sea temperatures in almost all oceans were higher than the values in the period from 1991 to 2020. This phenomenon was particularly intense in the Ionian Sea, where the positive deviation reached +1 degree. In August 2022, in the sea area between Rhodes and the island of Kastelorizo, the water temperature exceeded 28 degrees.
When it comes to the number of days of snow cover, last year turned out to be impressive for Crete. In the White Mountains, snow lay for 160 days. However, this is due to the winter at the turn of 2021/2022, when the area of Greece touched the Elpida front. By contrast, this year's winter was dry and sparse with snowfall, which unfortunately results in growing problems with the reserve of drinking water.
In 2022, fires consumed 224,000 hectares of forests, which is slightly lower than the annual average calculated for the period 2006-2022. However, the lower result is due to slightly milder weather conditions, thanks to which the fires did not spread to larger areas.
Cities, on the one hand, are the main cause of faster climate change, but with the right approach, they can also be the key to solving problems. Politicians in Zagreb not only presented the conclusions, but also decided to implement the Strategic Action Plan for urban development until 2040. EU politicians hope that its implementation will help to reduce the pace of climate change. This plan is based on seven pillars:
- promoting better planning, providing social spaces and services for the local community while ensuring the sustainability of natural resources and solutions taken from nature
- sustainable transformation of port cities
- promotion of public policies and programs for affordable housing
- promotion and dissemination of traditional architecture and traditional construction techniques as solutions for adapting to a changing climate
- increasing the safety of inhabitants and the resilience of cities to natural and man-made disasters
- initiation of a process that will result in the analysis and compilation of coastal spatial planning management models and, consequently, in the development of a set of recommendations.
- promoting projects that will use the best solutions and practices
The first summary of the implemented plan can be expected in 2030.