Articles | Volume 10, issue 8
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 10, 1725–1737, 2010

Special issue: Applying ensemble climate change projections for assessing...

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 10, 1725–1737, 2010

  19 Aug 2010

19 Aug 2010

Climate change and its effect on agriculture, water resources and human health sectors in Poland

M. Szwed1, G. Karg1, I. Pińskwar1, M. Radziejewski1,2, D. Graczyk1, A. Kędziora1, and Z. W. Kundzewicz1,3 M. Szwed et al.
  • 1Institute for Agricultural and Forest Environment, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poznañ, Poland
  • 2Faculty for Mathematics and Computer Science, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznañ, Poland
  • 3Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. Multi-model ensemble climate projections in the ENSEMBLES Project of the EU allowed the authors to quantify selected extreme-weather indices for Poland, of importance to climate impacts on systems and sectors. Among indices were: number of days in a year with high value of the heat index; with high maximum and minimum temperatures; length of vegetation period; and number of consecutive dry days. Agricultural, hydrological, and human health indices were applied to evaluate the changing risk of weather extremes in Poland in three sectors. To achieve this, model-based simulations were compared for two time horizons, a century apart, i.e., 1961–1990 and 2061–2090. Climate changes, and in particular increases in temperature and changes in rainfall, have strong impacts on agriculture via weather extremes – droughts and heat waves. The crop yield depends particularly on water availability in the plant development phase. To estimate the changes in present and future yield of two crops important for Polish agriculture i.e., potatoes and wheat, some simple empirical models were used. For these crops, decrease of yield is projected for most of the country, with national means of yield change being: –2.175 t/ha for potatoes and –0.539 t/ha for wheat. Already now, in most of Poland, evapotranspiration exceeds precipitation during summer, hence the water storage (in surface water bodies, soil and ground) decreases. Summer precipitation deficit is projected to increase considerably in the future. The additional water supplies (above precipitation) needed to use the agro-potential of the environment would increase by half. Analysis of water balance components (now and in the projected future) can corroborate such conclusions. As regards climate and health, a composite index, proposed in this paper, is a product of the number of senior discomfort days and the number of seniors (aged 65+). The value of this index is projected to increase over 8-fold during 100 years. This is an effect of both increase in the number of seniors (over twofold) and the number of senior-discomfort days (nearly fourfold).