Meteorology from Ancient Greece to the 21st century: The role of weather in the battle of Salamis in 480 B.C.

The ancient Greeks were aware of the local climatological conditions such as the etesian winds of the Aegean Sea, which have been already described by Aristotle in his book Meteorologica. The summer wind regime in the Aegean is determined by the relative strength between the etesians and local winds (e.g. sea breeze). These meteorological conditions played an important role during the Greek-Persian wars at the beginning of the 5th century B.C. and are remarkably similar today 25 centuries later. Our climatological analysis of the wind regime in the Aegean and in the narrow straits of Salamis where the Battle of Salamis took place in 480 B.C., is compared to ancient sources and our results can be summarized as follows: (i) Modern climatological station measurements and model runs describing the prevailing winds in the area of interest are consistent with the eyewitness descriptions reported by ancient historians and (ii) The ancient Greeks and particularly Themistocles must have been aware of the local wind climatology since their strategic plan was carefully designed and implemented to take advantage of the diurnal wind variation.