The impact of climate change on Athens is illuminated through updated data featured in the diaNEOsis report “Incorporating Climate Change into Greece’s Development Model Transformation.” This report sheds light on how the Athenian capital is influenced by shifting climatic conditions and future projections, particularly concerning its thermal environment.

As highlighted in the study due to the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect, urban areas tend to be warmer than their rural counterparts. Factors contributing to this phenomenon include reduced vegetation coverage, heightened absorption of solar radiation due to urban geometry and surface materials, and human activities generating additional heat. Specifically in Athens, the urban environment experiences elevated temperatures during nighttime hours, attributed to slower cooling compared to rural areas. Conversely, increased thermal loads and energy consumption for cooling in buildings are evident during midday.

The study also uncovers a steady rise in temperatures, attributed to urbanization and climate change. Over the past decade (2011-2020), average maximum daily temperatures surged by 1.6°C compared to the 1971-1980 period, equating to a decade-by-decade increase of 0.32°C. Similarly, average minimum temperatures rose by 1.13°C, reflecting a decade-by-decade increase of 0.23°C.

Analysis of data from the National Observatory of Athens meteorological station reveals a parallel uptick in extreme temperatures, notably an uptick in heatwave occurrences. While the frequency of heatwaves has surged, their intensity has seen a less pronounced rise.

Looking ahead, the forecast is troubling. Climate model simulations for the period 2046-2065, under the most adverse scenario (RCP8.5), paint a bleak picture, projecting further escalation of thermal stress in Athens.