Weather patterns belonging to the Greek cultural heritage. The examples of Salamis breeze and Arachova “katevatos”

Greece is arguably one of the most historical countries worldwide and 20 monuments in Greece have been already characterized by UNESCO as cultural heritage sites, based on their invaluable aesthetic and historical properties. In this study we suggest that certain atmospheric processes in Greece are also worth to be considered as monuments of intangible cultural heritage, based on their unique weather features and their unique historical role. In this context we describe two examples of local weather patterns in Greece that played an important role in defining the history of this country, namely the sea breeze in Salamis and “katevatos” wind in Arachova.

A climatological analysis of the wind regime in the narrow straits of Salamis, where the historical Battle of Salamis took place in 480 B.C., reveals that the convergence of local winds in the morning of the battle formed a “pincer” that assisted the Greek ships to trap the opponent Persian fleet, leading to probably the most important sea-battle victory of mankind. According to the ancient sources, the Greek admirals were aware of this climatology and the same weather pattern is still evident nowadays in the straits of Salamis. The case of “katevatos” wind in Arachova provides a second example of intangible heritage, as this specific natural disaster played an important role in the battle of Arachova in 1826, during the War of Greek Independence. This is also a climatological pattern that still occurs 1-2 times per year in the specific location. High resolution modeling of typical “katevatos” events with the WRF atmospheric model, reveals how this phenomenon is related to the formation of mountainous gravity waves downwind of Mt. Parnassos. Reflection of these waves at the critical level of wind shear above the mountain ridge results in the formation of devastating downslope winds and snowstorm. According to the historical sources, this weather type assisted the Greek general Karaiskakis in eliminating the Ottoman forces during the critical battle of Arachova.

Similar examples of atmospheric features may be also evident in other parts of Greece and worldwide. In this context, we discuss the possible threats related to the resilience of the above and similar atmospheric features to climate change, compared also to the corresponding resilience of conventional monuments.