The study area of the FLIRE Project is Rafina catchment, a periurban area in the greater southeast Mesogeia region in Eastern Attica, Greece. The area covers approximately 123 km2 and geographically extends east of Hymettus Mountain to the coastline of Evoikos Gulf. The mean altitude of this region is approximately 225m, with the maximum value being 920m and the minimum 0m. Regarding the ground slope, it ranges from 0% to 37.8% and its mean value is estimated to 7.5%. The climate of the area is characterized as typical subtropical Mediterranean, with prolonged hot and dry summers succeeded by considerably mild and wet winters.
Rafina catchment includes several municipalities and settlements of Eastern Attica. Based on the recent Kallikratis scheme (Greek Law 3852/2010), according to which the administrative division of Greece was reformed in 2011 and the boundaries of the self-administered units were re-defined, Rafina catchment includes the following municipalities: municipality of Rafina – Pikermi (the whole municipality), municipality of Penteli (part of the municipality), municipality of Pallini (almost the whole municipality), municipality of Peania (part of the municipality) and municipality of Spata – Artemida (part of the municipality). Finally, a very limited area in the north-eastern part of the study area belongs administratively to the municipality of Marathonas.
Rafina catchment is covered by different and often conflicting land uses. More specifically, the area includes forests, low vegetation, arable soils and grasslands, mainly located upstream and urban zones (built up areas and roads) located downstream. A land cover map of the area for 2009, as provided by FORTH is presented in Figure 2.
Fig. 1. The study area of FLIRE Project
Active Monitoring Station and Networks
The project area is covered adequately by state-of-the art networks that monitor its hydrometeorological conditions and its environmental status. Two of these networks are the Hydrological Observatory of Athens (HOA-NTUA) and the National Observatory of Athens (NOA). Additional environmental information is retrieved from air monitoring stations which are located in the greater study area and operated by the Environmental Services Department of Athens International Airport S.A. The locations of the monitoring stations are presented in Figure 3.
Fig. 2. A land cover map of the area for 2009.
Historic floods that affected the study area
According to historical data, several rainfalls events caused intensive disasters to Attica. Some of the most important flood events that caused damages in the study area are the following:
Fig. 3. The locations of monitoring stations for the study area.
In more detail, the third flood event occurred during the implementation of the FLIRE Project. More specifically, many damages were recorded at Spata region. In this area, the large volume of the water destroyed the protective barriers of a bridge in the Avenue of Spata. Significant damages were recorded also in Rafina. The volume of the water in the river was too big to be safely transferred to the outlet of the basin, i.e. to the sea. 350 m upstream the outlet to the sea, the stage of the water exceeded 3 m, as also recorded by the stream flow gauge installed in this location and adjacent houses and structures were severely affected. Pictures 1 and 2 are taken from an inhabitant of the area and depict the severity of the event.
- 2nd of November 1977 (the second bigger flood event for Attica, no particular recorded damages for the study area)
- 25th of February 1988 (two regions of the study area were affected, Paiania and Marathonas)
- 22nd of February 2013 (many damages occurred in the study area)
Historic fires that affected the study area
In the last two decades, with the expansion of wildland-urban interface areas, the fires are becoming more destructive. Major fires affected the FLIRE area of interest in 2005 and 2009, which burned a large part of the forest vegetation in the area:
Fire of July 2005 (two parallel forest fires)
Pictures 1 and 2. The floodplain and damages caused in private properties in the area of Rafina during the event of 22/02/2013.
Fire of August 2009
- The first one errupted in the heavily wooded residential area of Skoufeika, west of Rafina. The settlements Skoufeika, Agia Triada, Agia Kiriaki were hitted.
- The second one errupted near Neos Voutzas and moved to Kallitechnoupoli.
The area affected by forest fires that occurred in the period 2000-2012 and the borders of Rafina catchment are presented in Figure 4.
- The fire started in Grammatiko and quickly spread to the mountains of eastern Attica and affected 15 municipalities and communities and destroyed 60 homes, damaging another 150.
Fig. 4. Forest fires for the period 2000-2012.