Firstly, after an extended autumn, the winter season started later than usual in most of the country. It continued until mid-May in the western part of Turkey, including Istanbul, which is unusual. On the 19th of May, a heavy snowstorm hit Istanbul paralyzing the whole city and delaying the early summer. This resulted in low crop levels and shifted the harvesting period to July instead of June for most of the regions. As a result, there was a surge in grain prices due to the influence of the Ukraine-Russia war, staple food prices also increased particularly affecting low-income groups.
Following the prolonged winter, June was a month with extreme rainfall causing floods and casualties in Istanbul, Ankara, and the Black Sea region. The heavy storm and the rain particularly on the 6th of June in Ankara were because of an unusual atmospheric event called “supercell”. The speed of the wind and the amount of rainwater was greater than in the past decades. Despite the unusually heavy rainfall, the overall rain amount was less than the seasonal average causing droughts in many regions.
Europe has been suffering from extremely high weather temperatures for the last couple of weeks causing water shortage, forest fires, and health problems. The hot front entered Turkey in the third week of July and moved slowly to the east covering the whole country. Like in Europe, the first impact of the hot weather, particularly when accompanied by wind, causes uncontrollable forest fires. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey was luckily more prepared this year than in previous years and fought the forest fires with an increased number of tanker planes and helicopters.
The fuel prices including petrol and natural gas increased substantially mainly due to the Ukraine-Russia war and helped the Turkish lira (TL) against hard currencies. The petrol prices are almost three times more expensive compared to a year ago. As a result of the extremely high fuel prices, the usage of cars has dropped significantly resulting in relatively less air pollution in urban areas. On the other hand, low-income households needed to rely on coal more than in previous years because of its relatively lower cost, resulting in extremely polluted air in the periphery of the big cities.
Despite all extreme weather and energy events, there is hope in increasing awareness of the public about the climate and the environment.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Turkey Country Manager Dr. Semih Ergur