Climate change

Climate change

Greenhouse gases increase the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere. The average temperature increase of the troposphere (the lowest layer of the atmosphere) based on surveys from satellites is estimated to be 0.14 – 0.20 oC per decade between 1978 and 2011. From 1880, r egular global temperature surveys began. From 1901 to 2010, the 11 warmest years include all the years of the 21st century (2001 – 2010).

It is worth pointing out what effects such a temperature rise may have, as it is not just a general increase in temperature, but primarily a change in the distribution of energy on the globe. And such a change will cause climate change in many regions of the world.

Image Global temperature record 1880-2017.

Global climate change

The most important impacts of global warming are on water resources, weather extremes and biodiversity. All this, of course, is not without its impact on people’s lives.

1) Water resources

The increase in precipitation will therefore not be uniform across the globe in the near futur Due to the changing dynamics of atmospheric processes, this could mean longer dry periods separated by short intense rainfall events. Higher atmospheric temperatures mean more evaporation of water from the surface (both water and land). As a result, dry areas will become even drier in the future, and those where there is already a lot of moisture will become wetter, as more water in the atmosphere also means an increase in precipitation.

Global climate change is causing glaciers to melt due to rising temperatures. The snowmelt limit in the Alps has shifted by 200 metres, with the result that lower-lying mountain resorts are condemned to closure. W St. Anton am Arlberg w 2008 r. było tak ciepło, że nie można było nawet zacząć sztucznego naśnieżania. Stapiające lodowce powodują podniesienie się poziomu wód w oceanach, średnio o 1,8mm/rok. Może to mieć duży wpływ na przybrzeżne ziemie i wyspy. Wraz z ocieplaniem się klimatu, wzrasta też parowanie z powierzchni oceanów. Powoduje to wzrost opadów i erozji brzegów.

2) Weather extremes

An increase in global average temperature means more energy in the atmosphere, and more energy translates into greater violence of all phenomena occurring in it. Thus, climate warming affects the increase in precipitation intensity, as well as the occurrence of weather extremes, such as hurricanes, storms, cyclones, floods, heavy rainfall on the one hand, and heat waves, droughts, fires on the other.

3) Biodiversity

Climate change affects living organisms, often changing their ecological niches, forcing them to either adapt to new conditions or migrate poleward or become extinct.

4) Human

Climate change may result in the occurrence of climate-related diseases in areas where they did not previously occur, such as tropical malaria, hemorrhagic fever, etc. Climate change is already seriously affecting the economy, business, agriculture, tourism.

Climate change, and Poland

Poland will not be spared the effects of global warming. It is estimated that January will soon be warmer by up to 5 degrees C, while the warming will be less in summer. Thus, in winter there will be fewer days with temperatures below zero, which will reduce the amount of snowfall (it will rain instead). This will affect winter tourism and recreation. In summer, there will be hot weather and thunderstorms. This favors droughts, tornadoes and storm surges. There will be an increase of about 10-15 days in the growing season, which favors temporary agriculture in higher latitudes, but weather extremes will be a threat. Poland’s water resources will decrease. New pest species and diseases hitherto absent at these latitudes (e.g., malaria) may appear. Plant and animal cover is changing to representatives of more thermophilic species. In the mountains, it is possible to observe the shifting of the forest boundary towards higher mountain floors, which may cause the gradual disappearance of mountain pastures. The Baltic Sea is rising by 1.5-2.9 mm/year for the time being, but in 2080 it may rise by as much as 0.1-0.97 m. This could result in the flooding of 1,789 square kilometers of our country lying to the north, including Gdansk, which itself is collapsing by 1-2 mm/year. According to the studies, a 1-meter rise in the level of the Baltic Sea could cause a threat in Poland of 2,400 km2 for 244,000 people. The total cost of coastal protection is about $6 billion (a 1-meter sea level rise); with no action taken, the cost will rise to $30 billion.

The map below visualizes the floodplains as a result of 2 meters of sea level rise.


Did you know that

… The village of Shishmaref (562 people) on Sarichewa Island (Alaska, point A on the map) is in danger of evacuation due to global warming. Temperatures there have risen 4oC in the past 30 years, causing the permafrost that protected the island from storms to melt, as well as that which lingered on the island. Both events have caused more erosion of the shore, which is retreating at a rate of 3.3m per year. Currently, barricades have been built to protect the village, but still the protection is not sufficient. There are plans to relocate the village, but nevertheless the cost of this operation has been calculated at $180 million.

Facts and myths

There are many misconceptions about climate change. One is that global warming is part of a natural cycle, and human activity has no effect on it. The fact is, however, that such a large warming is not natural. Over the past 650,000 years, the highest concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was 300 ppm (300 CO2 molecules per million molecules of air constituents), and now it is 380 ppm. Earlier in the world’s history there were periods of warming, such as the medieval climatic optimum. What’s more, such warm and cool periods alternate throughout Earth’s history. However, never has this warming been as rapid as it is now.


Each of us has an impact on climate change, and each of us can take action to reduce that impact. One of the main sources of gas emissions is fuel combustion.

  • Ride a bicycle when you don’t plan a long route – more than 30% of car trips in the European Union are under 5 km, and 50% are under 5 km. In such situations, the best solution is just a bicycle, which does not emit any exhaust fumes!
  • Turn off stand-by on TVs, chargers, monitors, printers, power supplies. Standby devices consume energy, sometimes even more than for actual operation. This is the case with printers, for example. On average, 93% of the power goes to standby alone and only 7% to printing. Across the EU, that’s more than 50,000 gigawatt hours per year, which equates to around 50,000,000,000 kg of CO2!


This article has been produced within the framework of a project called LAKS: Local Accountability for Kyoto goalS, which is co-financed by the European Community’s LIFE+ financial instrument.


Ocena potencjalnych skutków społeczno-gospodarczych zmian klimatu w Polsce, prof. Maciej Sadowski, Instytut Ochrony Środowiska, WWF

National Climatic Data Center

Shishmaref Erosion and Relocation Coalition

Wikipedia, GLobal temperature record