March 24, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Greece ranks fourth in catastrophic floods

For the period 1882-2021, Greece is in fourth place in terms of catastrophic floods in the Eastern Mediterranean. Scientists say that over time they will occur more and more often.

This is the rating in which no country aspires to leadership, and the fourth place in it is sad for our country. In recent years, given the danger of climate change and catastrophic floods abroad (Germany, July 2021 – 220 deaths) and in our country (Mandras, November 2017 – 25 deaths), scientists are wondering how likely it is that an extreme flood may be repeated in the future.

A new Greek study has shown that over time, such incidents are likely to become more frequent both in Greece and the wider region. Over the past 140 years, Greece has the fourth highest number of severe and deadly floods in the Eastern Mediterranean with 12 cases, behind only Italy (51), Turkey (35) and Egypt (14). In general, severe flooding is less common in the Balkans than in Italy and Turkey.

The study, which covered the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, including Greece, was published in the journal Water by Dr. Michalis Diakakis, Research Fellow at the Department of Geology and Geoecology of ΕΚΠΑ, Dr. Katerina Papayannakis, Special Operations Scientist at the Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development of the National Observatory of Athens, and Meleti Foskaris, postgraduate student of the Department of Geology and Geoenvironment of ΕΚΠΑ.

Scientists, writes CNN Greece notes that despite advances in technology and risk management, catastrophic floods with high loss of life are occurring at an alarming rate around the world, Southern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean are no exception. The researchers studied catastrophic floods over the past 140 years, identifying 132 events during this period (1882-2021) that led to the death of 10 to 598 people in 13 countries of the Eastern Mediterranean (Greece, Italy, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya). The results of scientific work show that floods with numerous human casualties in the region are not at all uncommon and occur with a certain frequency:

  • once every 6 months – with more than 10 deaths;
  • once every three years – with more than 22 deaths;
  • floods claim more than 82 lives every nine years.

In Greece and the Balkans, floods with more than 10 fatalities occur once every 6.5 years (probability of 5% for a random year), and floods with more than 22 fatalities occur every 12 years. Most floods in our and neighboring countries occur from October to November (but also occur in summer), and in the southernmost countries – from October to December.

The study also showed that the number of extreme floods with many casualties has increased significantly over time. For example, the number of them with more than 10 victims recorded in the Eastern Mediterranean region in the period 1987-2021 is almost twice as much as in the period 1952-1986, and almost three times as much as in the period 1917-1986. 1951 The researchers note:

“The results of the survey indicate that the Eastern Mediterranean region is experiencing a significant increase in extreme flooding with multiple casualties and wide-ranging impacts on infrastructure, property and socio-economic activities. The conclusions emphasize the importance of long-term planning by the state to prevent and reduce the negative consequences of intense events, as well as timely and systematic informing citizens about weather risks and self-protection measures.”

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