Temperatures in the Eastern Mediterranean are rising three times faster than the global average, with the effects of climate change already felt in Greece, mainly in Crete and the eastern Peloponnese, according to Climpact.
Climpact scientist Nikos Michalopoulos of the National Observatory of Athens spoke on the forum on “Mitigating the Impact and Adaptation of Greek Agriculture to Climate Change” saying that Greece might be forced to restructure the cultivation of crops in the coming years.
“The Eastern Mediterranean and the Arctic Circle are the two most important hot spots in the world in terms of the impact of climate change,” Michalopoulos said.
The scientist noted that due to the particularly high temperatures a decrease in crop yield is expected. An increase in the frequency of extreme weather events will bring more frequent crop damage and reduced water availability due to prolonged droughts, which, consequently, will result in increased water demand for irrigation.
In addition, he noted, the increase in temperature and humidity in the air will result in the proliferation of pest and weed diseases that affect crop yields qualitatively and quantitatively.
“We expect an increase (in diseases) during the growing season due to rising temperatures, pressure on water reserves in areas which are already vulnerable, reduced soil organic matter and increased risk of damage, salinization and degradation of agricultural soils and increased risk of agricultural land loss,” Michalopoulos said.
The scientist stressed the importance of the agricultural sector in Greece, which produces 4 percent of GDP and along with tourism are considered the sectors that can contribute to the national economic growth.