Athens, Greece Fights To Beat The Heat

The Municipality of Athens, Greece has been taking a number of measures to combat the heat.  

“In the last two or three decades, the heat has changed. It has become much longer, higher temperatures and more frequent,” said Eleni Myrivil, chief heat officer for the city.

The latest project is a messaging service that will provide immediate information on weather conditions, and on the measures that must be taken for people’s protection. This “heat alert” system classifies heat waves into four categories:

  • Category 0: High temperatures – a danger to the health of vulnerable people;
  • Category 1: Very high temperatures – follow the instructions and avoid prolonged exposure to heat, and inform vulnerable people;
  • Category 2: Very high temperatures – a danger to health. Take precautions, and prepare to help vulnerable people; and
  • Category 3: Extreme Temperatures – a significant health risk – take maximum precautions.

The categories are based on an algorithm for predicting the effects on the health of the inhabitants of Athens during days of high temperatures. It was developed specifically for the city through the correlation of historical weather data taken from the international dataset ERA over a period of two decades, and mortality data provided by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

The messaging service also provides a “cool routes” feature for pedestrians and cyclists, which identifies routes that may be shaded, have less car traffic, or are otherwise less exposed to intense heat.

“People need shade to walk and to bicycle,” said Myrivil. “Basically, we’ve been figuring out where the hot spots are in our city, and trying to focus most of the heat mitigation actions in those areas.” 

The city has also opened three air-conditioned spaces to the general public as cooling shelters, as the city expects to soon experience a new heatwave that is expected to reach temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius.