Summer 2014 was not too kind to Italy. To this Italy resident it seems Italy’s traditionally sunny climate is becoming less sunny. Over the last few years, summer temperatures have felt lower and the start and end of the seasons in Italy has become increasingly blurry. This begs the question: Is the climate in Italy changing?
Obviously, one’s instincts are not enough to gauge whether something is up with Italy’s climate so I took at look at some historical weather data to see what, if anything, it revealed.
Since writing this, I’ve received information based on scientific studies which does tend indicate that Italy’s climate is changing and quite markedly too. To find out more, read on or skip to the “So, Is Italy’s Climate Changing?” section further down this page.
Here’s my own, admittedly, rudimentary research based on temperature data:
A website which supplies historical temperature and other weather data for Italy is Il Meteo. Data from Il Meteo is likely to be reliable seeing as the company behind it supplies meteorological information to Italian television and other media.
Here’s the data I extracted from Il Meteo’s publicly available historical weather information database for Milan, Florence, Rome, Naples, and Palermo over a five year period.
To see if any trends are evident, I chose to look at the maximum temperatures in July as it is one of the hottest months of the year in Italy. Included are average July temperatures and the number of rainy and stormy days. All temperatures are in degrees Centigrade.
Is there any evidence of climate change? Some, I’d say, but take a look at the information and judge for yourselves.
|Maximum Temperature in July||34.0°C||34.0°C||32°C||34°C||35°C||32°C|
|Average Temperature in July||25.5 °C||26.5 °C||23.2 °C||25.3 °C||25.6°C||22.4 °C|
|Number of rainy days||6||8||11||10||7||15|
|Number of stormy days||7||8||11||6||7||12|
Curiosity: In 2014, 2 foggy days recorded. None recorded for the other years.
Any trend here? Yes, the number of rainy days does appear to be increasing. 2014 was undoubtably wet and stormy and the average temperature was considerably lower than usual too.
|Maximum Temperature in July||38.0 °C||36.0 °C||38.0 °C||38.0 °C||38.0 °C||35.0 °C|
|Average Temperature in July||25.8 °C||26.3 °C||23.5 °C||26.1 °C||25.5 °C||23.8 °C|
|Number of rainy days||3||11||11||1||5||13|
|Number of stormy days||5||7||7||0||6||6|
As for Milan, there’s some evidence that Florence has become wetter in recent years.
|Maximum Temperature in July||36.0 °C||38.0 °C||37.0 °C||37.0 °C||36.0 °C||33.0 °C|
|Average Temperature in July||25.8 °C||26.8 °C||24.1 °C||26.3 °C||25.3 °C||22.7 °C|
|Number of rainy days||2||2||5||2||8||10|
|Number of stormy days||4||3||6||1||10||10|
No concrete evidence of temperatures falling hugely but since 2013 Rome has become wetter in July.
|Maximum Temperature in July||34.0 °C||34.0 °C||34.0 °C||34° C||35.0°C||32.0°C|
|Average Temperature in July||25.8 °C||25.6 °C||24.7 °C||27.2 °C||26.3 °C||24.5 °C|
|Number of rainy days||1||6||3||3||7||12|
|Number of stormy days||1||7||1||3||5||6|
Like Rome, which is not too far to the north of Naples, this city in Italy’s south seems to be getting wetter.
|Maximum Temperature in July||34.0 °C||33.0 °C||32.0 °C||39.0 °C||35.0 °C||34.0 °C|
|Average Temperature in July||25.8 °C||26.1 °C||25.9 °C||26.9 °C||25.4 °C||25.1 °C|
|Number of rainy days||0||2||3||3||0||3|
|Number of stormy days||0||1||2||2||1||1|
The weather in Palermo seems to be as reliable as ever.
Source: Il Meteo
So, Is Italy’s Climate Changing?
Overall, and admittedly this is not exactly the most scientific of assessments, on the basis of July weather, there is a little evidence that Italy’s climate is experiencing some change. Generally, average temperatures appear to have remained relatively stable throughout Italy, with the exception of 2014 in Italy’s north and Rome.
In addition, thanks to recent information received via Jamie Vincent there is scientific evidence which shows that Italy’s climate is changing. Firstly, there’s this study:
Then, there’s this National Geographic article:
- Climate Change Already Having Profound Impacts on Lakes in Europe – from which you will note that numbers of cold water fish species are falling while those of warm water species are on the increase.
There are signs that Italy’s top half has become wetter since 2010, at least in terms of rainy days. I did look for precipitation figures but they are not available for the entire five year period.
While summer 2014 weather did spark a little panic; compounded by Italy’s poor economic state; it looks at first sight as if this year’s summer may have merely been one of those bad years. Having said that, the study and article mentioned above do indicate that something is changing in Italy climate-wise.
Incidentally, weather panic stricken hoteliers in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region tried to extend school holidays to keep tourists in place to keep them spending. They failed! Instead, hotel and other tourism operators decided to extend the summer by offering more attractions. It’s not yet clear whether this strategy worked, though September was kinder weather-wise than August and July, so it might have helped.
Of more concern is the effect of the 2104 summer on olive oil production which is likely to be down, and 2014 may not the greatest vintage for Italian wine either, at least not for wines produced in Italy’s north. Southern Italian wines may benefit from less sun in that they may be somewhat less heady than normal seeing as less sun tends to lead to wines with a lower alcohol content.
A Silver Lining? Maybe.
There may be a silver lining to Italy’s cloudy 2014 weather, though not for seaside tourism businesses. The cooler weather may mean more snow on Italy’s mountains this coming winter and this could help line the pockets of ski lift operators with silver. We’ll see.
What do you think? Is Italy’s climate changing or was 2014 just one of those years?
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