The anomalous low and high temperatures of 2012 over Greece – an explanation from a meteorological and climatological perspective
2012 was the hottest year in Greece on the basis of the available record dating back to 1958, displaying at the same time the widest annual temperature range. During the summer and autumn months, numerous regions in the domain of study experienced record-breaking maximum and minimum temperatures. Conversely, the winter period was particularly cold and January one of the coldest months over the last 55 yr. The analysis of the cold period indicates that the synoptic conditions resemble the positive phase of the Eastern Mediterranean Pattern (EMP). The predominance of these cool conditions seems to be related primarily to an intense NNW or NNE atmospheric circulation, as a consequence of the positive EMP phase. Moreover, the reduction in the floating sea ice emerges as a key driver of the formation of a low-pressure pattern and the reinforcement of the trough south of Scandinavia, which in turn strengthened the Siberia High east of the trough. This reinforcement resulted in a blocking pattern and in favorable conditions for the EMP formation. The atmospheric circulation during the prolonged high-temperature period resembles, respectively, the negative phase of North Sea–Caspian Pattern teleconnection. The observed positive pole, in conjunction with the strong southwestern circulation, results in temperature increases and in the development of a smooth pressure field that contributes to the weakening of the Etesian winds and therefore to calm conditions over the continental areas.