Istanbul, hot due to climate change

Climate change: Turkey suffered the hottest month in half a century

Several Turkish scientists warn of the risks and consequences that climate change will bring to Turkey, including more droughts and floods.

The rains and storms that hit western Turkey this June may have served as a relief, but the truth is that last May was the warmest on record in Turkey in more than half a century, according to data from the Turkish Meteorology State Service, confirming the consequences that climate change is already causing in the Eurasian country.

According to the most recent data, the average May temperature in Turkey increased by 2.6 degrees Celsius to 19.3 degrees, which placed May 2021 as the hottest month in 51 years, beating the previous record set in May 2007. Few places in the country were spared of this rise in thermometers: Samandağ, a municipality in the Mediterranean province of Hatay, was the only place where the average temperature dropped in May.

A report presented last month to the Commission of Inquiry on Climate Change of the Turkish parliament, warned that the severity and impact of droughts as a result of global warming will increase progressively during this century; in addition, the text ensured that by 2100 some 776,000 people will be affected each year by storms and floods, which will cause damages valued at 16,5 billion euros.

Another report prepared by Mehmet Somuncu, from the University of Ankara, and also presented before this commission, also warns of the impact on tourism of climate change, describing, for example, how droughts and high temperatures will cause greater water stress in tourists and increase cooling costs; in addition, plagues and diseases will increase due to climatic changes and high temperatures.

The heat in Istanbul will be unbearable during summer

Places like Cappadocia could be in danger due to increased erosion, while many historic sites on the coasts of Istanbul and the Aegean are also at risk of serious damage, or even disappearing, due to rising sea levels, being especially places like Bodrum or Gökova Bay (both in Muğla) the most affected. The frequency and intensity of floods and forest fires will also increase, affecting tourism.

Despite some scientists claiming that the climate is actually cooling and that the Bosphorus will freeze this decade, last April, Sevinç Asilhan, an academic from the Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ), warned in statements to media that the weather of Istanbul will change drastically because of climate change, and that its inhabitants will have to face torrid summers with extreme temperatures. “Istanbul will get very hot in the summer, becoming unbearable for people, and there will be floods,” she said.

According to climate experts, storms with tornadoes and floods will be common not only in Istanbul, but in many places in Turkey; if steps are not taken to slow climate warming, 200-day heat waves will be common, especially in the southern and eastern regions of Anatolia. Predictions suggest that rains will decrease in eastern, southern and western Turkey causing droughts, while they will increase in the northeast and northwest of the country, causing floods.

Spring and fall are disappearing

A report prepared last April by the Ministry of the Environment and Urban Planning in which estimates of the increase in temperatures in Turkey for the coming decades were addressed, projected an increase of between 1 and 2 degrees in average temperatures between 2016 and 2040, while between 2041 and 2070 the average temperature in Turkey could increase between 1.5 degrees – in the most positive projection – and 4 degrees, in the most negative forecast.

From 2071 to 2099, the average temperature in Turkey could rise up to 5 degrees. “In some of the worst projected scenarios, during the last three decades of the 21st century there could be an increase in temperature of 3 celsius degrees during winters, and up 8 degrees during summers,” said the report. This increase in temperatures, which is already behind phenomena such as the so-called sea snot that devastates the Sea of ​​Marmara, will also cause the arrival of many invasive species.

İsmail Dabanlı, a scientist from the Istanbul Technical University and one of the participants in the Parliamentary Commission on Climate Change of the Turkish parliament, is another of the Turkish academics who warn of the arrival of hotter months in Turkey as a result of the warming of climate, which is causing spring and summer to gradually disappear: “We are heading towards a two-season climate. Winter is lengthening until covering April and May, and summer is lengthening until covering autumn”.