Saturday, 24 October 2015

Micro-Climates of Greece

Micro-Climates of Greece

Greece is a small country that covers a large area.

The country closest in landmass to Greece is England, with an area of 130,395 km2 as opposed to Greece's 131,957km2. Another comparison could be with the US state of Alabama. (you can fit both Greece and England into the state of Victoria, which is one of Australia’s smaller states.)

Greece is bounded by three Seas, the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean Seas, and its coastline is estimated to be 13,676 km (8,498 miles). It spreads 772 km (480 miles) from east to west and 940 km (584 miles) from north to south – with Athens roughly in the center. If you travelled from the very north of the country to the very south it would be like travelling from London to Barcelona, or if you were in Australia,  something like travelling from Melbourne to Sydney.

Thus, just because of the differences in Latitude the Greek climate does vary from north to south.

Islands and Mountains, and the Mediterranean Climate.

Greek summers are hot and dry, while winters are cool and rainy. Thus Greece generally has a temperate Mediterranean climate. The average July temperature is 27°C (80°F), with the thermometer topping 38°C (100°F) on the hottest days. And rainfall increases from south to north, ranging from 41 cm (16 inches) in Athens to about 127 cm (50 inches) on the island of Corfu.

However, because there are so many mountains (80% is mountainous) and so many island (20% is islands) this caused differences as climate is moderated by both sea and mountain breezes.

Greece is primarily a mountainous country with more than 300 larger or smaller mountains. The most significant Greek mountain axis is the Pindus Mountain range, forming the “backbone” of Mainland Greece, it extends naturally to the mountains in the Peloponnese, and to Crete. Other mountain ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas (one ends with Mount Athos), or chains of islands.

The large number of islands are estimated to be from somewhere around 1,200 to 6,000, depending on the minimum size to take into account. The number of inhabited islands is variously cited as between 166 and 227.

Variations in Climate
So, while the climate of Greece is generally Mediterranean, due to the country's unique geography it has a remarkable range of micro-climates and local variations. 

The weather at the higher elevations is colder and wetter, and mountains, and northern areas, receive snowfalls and frosts in winter. You can even get snowfalls as far south as Athens or even Crete at times.

You can find at least three main types of climate in Greece.

Folk are often surprised to find there are Alpine areas in Greece. In the north-west you might think you are in Switzerland with its chalets built on the mountain slopes.

Mild Mediterranean
Then there areas were the temperatures rarely reach the extremes, although snowfalls do occur occasionally even in Athens and Crete during the winter. But all things have to be taken into account when looking at the climate of a particular area, or island. Take Crete. It has a fairly mild temperature although being the most southernmost island with summer temperatures of 25-6 and winter temperatures around 10-12. This is because it is surrounded by seas, away from large landmasses, with many tall mountains. So Crete benefits from both sea and mountain breezes in summer, and being so far south rarely has snowfalls. 


Hot Mediterranean
And there are the areas where they have very hot dry summers, and colder damp winters.


Rhodes another southern island is much hotter and drier with summer temperatures of 29-30 and winter temperatures around 10- 15.

Lemnos – The Windy Island

Lemnos is a Northern Aegean island. It is the 8th largest Greek island, once volcanic now it has low rounded hills and indented deepwater bays. It was formed by volcanic action and it does not form as a part of a physical chain or group. However the island is frequently grouped together with other Northern Aegean islands (Lesvos, Thasos and Samothraki) for tourist or administrative purposes.

A feature of Lemnos is that it is mostly flat (hence its many sandy beaches), and it has more arable land than many other islands. Thought the northwest part is more is rough and mountainous with Mount Vigla the highest elevation (470m).

The temperature is typically 2 to 5 degrees Celsius less than in Athens, and than Thessaloniki, its nearest large town. The average high in July is 29.0, and the average low in January is 4.2.
Summertime at a Lemnian Beach
Winter Hail in our Garden
 You could say Lemnos has a mild Mediterranean climate, but because of its position it can get winter winds from Russia, and summer winds from Egypt and so winters will have frosts and occasional snowfalls. However the strongest feature of this island are its winds. These may be welcome when they come in August, but in winter they bend the trees and keep everyone indoors. Hence the nickname for Lemnos, "the wind-ridden one" (in Greek, Ανεμόεσσα).
Me in Lemnos port in January
 I’ve found its not always easy being a gardener on Lemos because those hot and dry summers, that can extend for three or even four moths, and because of the frosts and winter snowfalls. Then, in addition, there are those winds! However with trial and error I continue to garden and now love my practical and very beautiful Lemnian garden. More about those trials and errors in the next blog.

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