For at least 3 decades, climate change has been present in Albania and it is precisely in recent years that climate changes features have become clearer recently. How much has the Albanian climate changed? And where do we see these changes? Tanja Pora, weather producer provides the facts.
1. Climate change in Albania has been observed since the late 90’s, but it is the winter of 1997 after which, climate change comes and becomes more frequent and clearer. Climate change is observed in the average and absolute values of air temperatures and atmospheric precipitation, which are the two main elements of the climate. Changes have also been observed in secondary elements such as the number of hot days or tropical nights, in the increase of heat waves and frosts, in the duration of dry periods and the appearance of various atmospheric phenomena.
2. Albania entered the new millennium with slight changes in climatic features; mainly in the average values of temperatures and precipitation, but since the first step, 2001, the presence of the phenomenon “El Ninjo” made the summer very hot, marking the maximum daily temperature above 40 degrees, in some Albanian urban centers. Overall, the first decade of this century confronted us with some extreme weather events of various natures such as heat waves, floods during the autumn and spring months, periods of extremely low frosts and temperatures, or forest fires due to long droughts. summer-autumn.
3. Climate change became more pronounced during the second decade 2010 -2020, a decade which began with the floods of Northern Albania, where residents were isolated for almost 1 month from the waters that occupied the regions of Shkodra, Lezha, Kurbin and partly Kruja. Various urban areas faced isolated floods from year to year until February 2015 when another massive flood threatened the lives and property of residents from Fier to Gjirokastra.
A tropical storm swept Albania from north to south, recording more than 200 millimetres of rain in 24 hours, higher than the monthly rainfall in most western and southern areas. The high intensity of rainfall in 2-3 days and the inflows of the Vjosa River from across the border forced it to get out of bed and flood the entire southern area flooding houses and abducting what he found ahead. It is precisely this decade that contains the hottest 5-year-old in the history of climate measurement; the years 2015 – 2019 are the hottest years in the history of measurements, not only in Albania and the region, but also in the whole globe.
During this 5-year period, the summer months marked very high temperatures and 2016 stands out, as the year with the highest temperatures, where the heat peak in cities such as Shkodra, Elbasan, Berat and Gjirokastra exceeded the temperature of 43 degrees. And it’s not just the high temperatures that distinguish this 5-year-old from other periods, but it’s also the number of days in which temperatures consistently hit values above 37 degrees Celsius.
4. In the last 20 years, the seasons are losing their climatic features. Winters have become milder and shorter as summer comes and becomes hotter and longer at the expense of spring-autumn. Indeed, the winters have calmed down, but nature has not forgotten to bring periods of up to 15 days, with very low temperatures where the thermometer drops to 10 degrees below zero in coastal areas, but also rare frosts, which cover 100% of Albania’s surface. On the other hand, the summer season in these two decades has broken records from the thermal point of view by recording high temperatures up to 39 degrees in mountainous areas such as Peshkopia, Kukes and Hasi, but also the dynamics of the atmosphere during the hot months turns out to be very rich; Dozens of storms have been observed in the last decade, mostly coastal storms where the wind has reached speeds of 100 kilometres per hour and precipitation has recorded 50 millimetres in just 30 minutes.
5. In the climate analysis of this century, in Albania and globally, the biggest paradox lies in atmospheric precipitation; the amount of annual precipitation has decreased significantly, but the cases with intense and extreme precipitation have doubled. It is precisely these atmospheric events that cause temporary flooding of urban areas, but also massive floods that simultaneously involve 2-3 territorial counties.
6. Another climate change is the rising sea level as a result of the melting of global glaciers. This increase in water level is most noticeable on the Adriatic coast, which has not only eroded, but water has advanced by at least 50 meters towards the ground. Occupying the shores by water has reduced green belts in western areas while across the North-East-South stretch, forest belts have been damaged by cutting and burning. Degradation of forest areas by indiscriminate cutting, by burning for natural or human reasons, is assessed as the greatest damage that Albanians have done to the environment.
7. The increase in the number of very hot days and the increase of droughts during the summer have caused the number of fires in forests, pastures or green parks to rise above 100 fires per year. But there are also years when the recorded fires go to over 300 becoming more visible in the Eastern areas of Albania, when you travel for tens of kilometres in the absence of trees or animals, extinct along with forests.
Beyond the facts, the greatest impact of climate change becomes apparent in increasing natural disasters; disasters which have often led to National Emergency.