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Climate Change and Medicanes

climate change and Medicanes

On September 9, Mediterranean Cyclone Daniel brought major disasters to the South-Eastern Mediterranean. It cost lives and property in Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria. It destroyed infrastructures and roads. Animals drowned and farmland was devastated. On September 12, it struck Libya, leaving thousands dead and missing and devastated areas.

Before the extent of the destruction in our country by the impact of "Daniel" was even assessed, another Mediterranean Cyclone, "Elias", struck again with severity between 25 and 28 September in the same and other geographical areas and added its own contribution to the devastating effects of the previous one. On the occasion of these tragic events, we discuss the phenomenon of Mediterranean Cyclones, otherwise known as 'Medicanes', their impact on our daily lives and the contribution of climate change to their formation.

What are Medicanes and how are they linked to Climate Change and Ocean Warming?

Medicanes is the name given to cyclones with tropical characteristics that form in the Mediterranean Sea, especially in the Ionian Sea, and are formed when cold waves of atmospheric air meet warmer air masses originating from elevated sea surface temperatures. Their characteristic winds reach an intensity of more than 12 Beaufort. The main factor in their formation is the sea surface temperature. Such phenomena were relatively rare in the past in our region. In recent years, however, as climate change has increased the temperature in the Mediterranean Sea, the intensity of storms has increased and they have come ashore as cyclones in previously unaffected or rarely affected areas.

The warming of the Mediterranean sea is the main cause of the Medicanes, which are expected to become more intense, more often associated with stronger winds, leading to more intense rainfall and an increased risk of flooding.

What about the future;

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - IPCC in its report, as we wrote in a previous article, announced that temperatures in the Mediterranean are rising about 20% faster than the global average.

Medicanes and mitigation actions

The warming of the Mediterranean Sea is the main cause of the Mediterranean Cyclones, which seem to be becoming more intense, more often associated with stronger winds, leading to more intense rainfall and increasing the risk of flooding. Their path in recent years has been shifting south and east in the Mediterranean, with much more frequent events in the Ionian Sea, and it seems that in the future they will pose a threat to European countries such as Italy and Greece, but also to countries in the south-eastern Mediterranean in general.

Another explanation for the Medicanes is that global warming and less rainfall during the summer, which causes droughts and fires, leads to an increase in rainfall over a shorter winter period more intense and concentrated causing floods, landslides and soil erosion.

How are residential and agricultural areas affected?

The regions of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean that will be most frequently affected by these cyclones are probably not prepared with their coastal or other infrastructure to withstand their extreme forces. When houses, roads and bridges were built in the past and the population density in low-lying coastal areas increased, the possibility of frequent occurrence of such strong phenomena and the fact that houses and infrastructure would not be prepared for them in the future, was probably not taken into account.

In arable areas, the more dense and intense winter rainfall expected from climate projections is likely to deplete soils of key nutrients, leaving behind undernourished, poor soils that cannot support agriculture.

Finally, there is always the concern that the escalation of the effects of Medicanes and the limited capacity of societies to adapt to them could become a cause of regional conflicts or mass migration of people.

But more and more often, the message from global organisations and scientific institutions is that we need to prepare for the intensifying climate impacts that are almost certain to occur in the remaining decades of the 21st century.

Mediterranean Cyclones in Greece

And to come to what we have witnessed in recent years, according to the National Observatory of Athens, the increase in the frequency of Mediterranean cyclones in the Ionian Sea since 2017 with a duration of more than 24 hours that affected Greece with devastating results is worth noting . We list them by name. Almost all of us have experienced their effects or we certainly know them.

Zenon, November 16 - 19, 2017

Zorba, September 27 - October 1, 2018

Ianos, September 14 - 20, 2020

Nearchos, October 22 - November 2, 2021

Daniel, September 4 - 12, 2023

Elias, September 26 - 28, 2023

Understanding the factors that make us vulnerable to the impacts of Climate Change is crucial and should lead to mitigation actions or even efforts to eliminate vulnerability, rather than waiting for the consequences without taking any action.

And what are we to do?

It is vital that societies and governments understand what makes us vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including the frequent occurrence of such extreme events as the Mediterranean Cyclones. This understanding must lead to actions to mitigate and even eliminate vulnerability, rather than waiting for the consequences without taking any action.

For businesses whose facilities or supply chains are affected by these phenomena, it is necessary to include the risks from the Mediterranean Cyclones in their future planning in order to take the necessary measures to strengthen their resilience.

E-On INTEGRATION contributes to this effort. We create tools for businesses that help them to anticipate Climate Change Risks and take the necessary mitigation actions in time to become more resilient and sustainable to the conditions they will face in the future, in order to continue to produce their products and services.


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