Climate change is taking its toll on us more and more. For 70 years, the average annual temperature in Poland has increased by 2 degrees Celsius. As a consequence, we are more often plagued by winters with insufficient snowfall and prolonged summers with numerous heat waves. Climate scientists warn that these phenomena affect not only plants, but also our lives.
During the year, average temperature values in Poland are almost 2 degrees higher than 70 years ago, climatologist Prof. Joanna Wibig. She explained that warming caused a significant shortening of winter and lengthening of summer, which led to the extension of the growing season of plants.
– Global warming in Poland is progressing faster than the world average. During the year, the average temperatures in our country are almost 2 degrees higher than 70 years ago. Winters, during which days with negative temperatures dominate, are rare, and during the day the mercury usually goes above zero – explained the climatologist.
Problems for plants
Experts’ observations show that the most intense warming occurs in spring and winter, and the slowest in autumn. In the Łódź region, warming has shifted this area from a zone where negative days prevailed in winter to a zone where the temperature is usually positive during the day and only drops below zero at night.
The consequence of this state is the lack of snow cover. While city dwellers may be satisfied with this, it is a big problem for farmers – a thick layer of snow protects the ground against excessive cooling and loss of soil moisture, the soil without this cover is exposed to frost.
– Several days of freezing temperatures can lead to a decrease in winter cereal yields. The lack of snow cover also means a lack of significant water inflow to the soil during the spring thaw. In the past, it was a significant injection of moisture before the growing season. Currently, the deficit of water in the soil often begins at the beginning of spring. A warmer winter also creates more favorable conditions for the survival of pests – explained the climatologist.
Experts point out that the warming caused a significant shortening of winter – understood as a period with an average temperature below 0 degrees C – and an extension of summer, i.e. a period with an average temperature above 15 degrees. The length of the remaining seasons did not change significantly, but early spring and spring begin and end earlier, while autumn and winter later.
Research by climatologists also shows that since the mid-twentieth century, the growing season has lengthened in the area boat by nearly a month. A longer growing season is conducive to the maturation of plants for which the previous growing season was too short.
– An example is maize, which until 30 years ago was grown only for fodder, because the cobs had no chance to mature. Currently, it is a popular cereal in Poland. While farmers can remedy this problem by holding back a bit with sowing, perennial shrubs and fruit trees are very endangered in the years when the last frosts occur during fruit setting” – added Prof. Wibig.
The so-called false spring occurs more and more often – after several weeks of warming and the start of vegetation, winter returns. A wave of frost during the period of flowering or fruit formation brings huge losses to fruit-growing and natural ecosystems.
Prof. Wibig noted that the warming is also visible in the summer – the average temperature of the summer months has increased by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. In central Poland, the number of hot days has almost tripled in the last 50 years.
Threats to humans
In developed countries, heat is considered the most dangerous meteorological threat to human life. This is especially true in cities, where high temperatures during the day are accompanied by slightly lower temperatures at night.
– Nights when the temperature does not fall below 20 degrees C are called tropical nights. In the mid-twentieth century, they happened very rarely in Poland, once every dozen or so years. Currently, in cities, they are very common during heat waves, preventing the body from regenerating at night. Higher summer temperatures also mean much greater evaporation and often accompanying drought, water deficit or low water quality – noted the climatologist.
In the researcher’s opinion, we should focus on preventing such situations, including by striving to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. – The climate crisis is primarily a threat to people. The progress of global warming makes our lives harder, and it may be even harder in the future, she stressed.
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