Greece has recorded its warmest winter, a leading weather scientist said Tuesday.

Kostas Lagouvardos, research director at the Athens national observatory, told AFP that winter temperatures in 2023-2024 on average stood at 11.8 degrees Celsius (53.24 Fahrenheit).

"This is the highest average temperature in December, January and February" since records began in 1960, he said.

The observatory said it had analysed preliminary data from the EU's Copernicus climate change service.

The past decade has witnessed the six warmest winters, it said. Since 1960, the maximum average winter temperature has increased by 1.8 degrees Celsius (3.24 Fahrenheit).

Lagouvardos said the greater Athens area, central and northeastern Greece, eastern Crete and the Cycladic islands were at risk of drought this year.

Last year was the worst in terms of forest fires with nearly 175,000 hectares (432,000 acres) ravaged and over 20 people killed, according to the observatory.

The 2023 fires followed a prolonged heatwave in July with temperatures reaching 46 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit) in the south of the country.