Climate change mitigation - State and impacts (Poland)
- Climate change
Global warming is unequivocal and is evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising average sea levels.
The increase in temperature is also evident in Poland. The last decade of the 20th century was particularly warm, although the rising trend in average annual temperatures can be seen both at meteorological stations located on the outskirts of towns and those situated in areas with limited anthropogenic impacts, for example at Mount Śnieżka, where the increase amounted to 0.6 oC per 100 years. A similar increase in the average annual temperature has been recorded at stations located along the Baltic coast, with long observed data series (Gdańsk–Wrzeszcz, Hel and Koszalin), as well as the Warsaw Observatory weather station. Also, a comparison of average annual temperatures for the whole territory of Poland for 1991‑2000 compared to the thirty-year period 1961‑1990 (the WMO reference period) has shown that the last decade of the 20th century was 0.6 oC warmer, with the highest increase in temperatures occurring in the winter months: 1.9 oC warmer in January and 1.5 oC in February. In December, however, temperature values were identical in the comparable periods and lower in October and November by 0.2 ºC and 0.7 ºC, respectively. A similar trend showing a higher increase in temperature in winter than in summer has been observed throughout Europe. Figure 1 below shows the average annual temperatures recorded at the Warsaw Okęcie weather station since 1971.
Changes in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols, land cover and solar radiation alter the energy balance of the climate system. The anticipated climate changes will, for the most part, have an adverse impact on many systems and sectors. For example: the expected increased prevalence of meteorological highs and the related high air temperatures, combined with increased solar radiation and contamination, will contribute to the deterioration of air quality, among other things through an increase in the ozone concentration levels in the layers of the atmosphere closest to the Earth. Also, the anticipated impact of climate change can be seen mainly through changes in the water balance, in particular increased low tides, increased evaporation, the deteriorating quality of inland waters and an increased frequency of extreme hydrological conditions (droughts and floods), whilst prolonged dry seasons and warmer winters may result in an increase in the pest population, leading to a further decline of forests. Higher temperatures in the summer may lead to an increased fire risk. Changes to the flora caused by climate change and economic use of land may lead to a fragmentation of plant populations and a reduced biological diversity in forest ecosystems.