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Unprecedented Warm Winter in Greece and Europe Puzzles Scientists

Unprecedented Warm Winter in Greece and Europe Puzzles Scientists

Πηγή Φωτογραφίας: EUROKINISSI

While the severe Arctic freeze pummeled the US and Canada last week, Greece basked under unusually warm sunshine with temperatures reaching 20° Celsius (68° Fahrenheit).

Greece and the rest of Europe have been experiencing unprecedentedly warm temperatures well above winter averages thus far this season.

In Greece, the unseasonable “spring” weather—with temperatures averaging three to four degrees above normal—will last until the end of next week. The day of Epiphany is expected to be sunny.

While the severe Arctic freeze pummeled the US and Canada last week, Greece basked under unusually warm sunshine with temperatures reaching 20° Celsius (68° Fahrenheit).

Professor of Meteorology and Climatology and vice-rector of Economics of the University of Thessaloniki, Charalambos Feidas told the Athens Macedonia News Agency (AMNA) that the phenomenon can be classified as climate instability.

“[This] phenomenon is observed throughout Europe and not only in Greece and its characteristic is its long duration, which exceeds 30 days…this classifies it in a category of climate instability and not just of a simple weather instability, a warm invasion of a few days,” he said.

Europe breaks temperature records for winter

Europe has broken temperature records already this year, with cities from Berlin to Warsaw recording their warmest-ever start to the month.

Northern Spain and southern France basked in beach weather with 24.9° Celsius in Bilbao, its hottest-ever day in January.

Temperatures in the German capital reached 16° Celsisu (60.8° Fahrenheit) on New Year’s Day, a January record, national forecaster Deutscher Wetterdienst said on Twitter. In Poland’s biggest city, the mercury surpassed the previous peak by more than five degrees. The Czech Republic registered its warmest-ever New Year’s Eve.

Maximiliano Herrera, a climatologist who tracks extreme temperatures told The Guardian that “we can regard this as the most extreme event in European history.”

Alex Burkill, a senior meteorologist at the Met Office, agreed it was an extreme weather event. “It’s been extreme heat across a huge area, which is almost, to be honest, unheard of,” he said.

Warm winter may bring drought in Greece

Europe’s winter heat wave has curbed demand for natural gas, easing pressure on the continent’s fragile energy systems and pushing prices down. In most areas, the unseasonably warm weather is expected to persist, quelling fears that the region could face rationing and blackouts amid reduced gas supply from Russia.

However, the warm weather in Greece and Europe also has serious drawbacks.

“On the one hand, there is the positive aspect of reduced energy demand, but on the other hand, it creates the background for a drought in the coming year, as the largest water reserves come from the snowfalls,” Feidas warns.

“During the spring, when the snow cover disappears due to high temperatures, the water reserve is strengthened,” he noted. “If there is no snow, we will have a deficit in the water balance.”

“Such a long period of warm invasion, lasting more than 30 days, has not been observed in recent decades,” the Greek scientist said in speaking to AMNA. “For more than 4-5 weeks the temperature has been on average 3 to 4 degrees above normal for the season and without snowfall. The snow cover in the territory does not even reach 1%, while in such a season it would be over 10%.”

The connection between warm weather in Greece and freezing cold in North America

The Greek scientist thinks that a connection exists between the high temperatures in Greece and Europe and the freezing weather in North America.

“If we combine the two extreme weather conditions, the prolonged high temperatures in Europe and the unprecedentedly low temperatures in the USA, the two phenomena are related to each other,” he pointed out and explained that “they work like a form of a ripple,” as “the very strong cold intrusion pushes warmer air masses from Africa towards Europe.”

Asked if the phenomena are manifested as a consequence of climate change, he replied that “the combination of the two phenomena is indicative of the instability of the climate that we have been experiencing for several years and which is strengthening year by year.”

He added, however, that “a key criterion to connect extreme phenomena of this kind with climate change is the increase in their frequency of occurrence,” so “the more we observe such phenomena, the more they are related to climate change.”

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