Destructive storms, heat waves and climate change

Destructive storms, heat waves and climate change

Increasingly, we observe waves of heat melting asphalt in the streets, and torrential rains turn the roads into rushing rivers. High temperatures and storms are more and more frequent phenomena, which are a danger to people. Why is this happening? Is this global warming?

Global warming is an increase in the average temperature of oceans and land surface. However, the temperature rise is not all. Other signs of climate change are sea level rise, melting of glaciers, ice sheets and sea ice, or changes in the occurrence of plants and animals. Europeans, however, do not feel these very important signs of climate change. The main danger, not only for Europeans, is more and more frequently occurring extreme droughts, heat waves and downpours.

The Institute of Meteorology and Water Management is constantly publishing new meteorological warnings about thunderstorms and heat. For example, on June 28, IMiGW warned that in 7 voivodeship we should expect severe heat , in 5 others – storms with hail.

Heavy rains in cities

All over the world research institutions collect evidence of climate change. The occurrence of extreme phenomena only confirms the scientists’ beliefs. This year we have seen a lot of weather breakdowns. Recently torrential rains, floods and even floods have often appeared in Poland.

An example is the downpour which in May came over Bialystok. In the city fell 70 liters of water per square meter in less than 4 hours. In total, during 9 hours of rain fell nearly 90 liters of water per square meter, more than it should fall during 1.5 months. By comparison, the average monthly rainfall in May for this locality is 63.6 liters per m2 (the long-term average from 1981-2010). A similar situation also took place in June, when raining with hail paralyzed the city and Bialystok was again under water.Intense rainfall paralyzes cities. Floods cause traffic congestion, destruction and huge losses. Sewerage that is not able to accommodate such a large amount of water in such a short time turns the streets into dangerous rivers, and parks into lakes.

Unfortunately, due to the progressive climate change we already observe and we can expect further adverse changes in the rhythm and places of occurrence of precipitation.The amount of precipitation will fall in the areas that already suffer from the rain deficit and grow where they are large anyway.Climate projections also indicate that we will be dealing with shorter, more intense precipitations between which there will be extended rainfalls.Certainly, it will not be easy to provide people and crops with water and managing the discharge of precipitation water, “says Aleksandra Kardaś, atmospheric physicist.

Heat is not only threatening  people

Between summer thunderstorms, there are often waves of heat. High temperatures not only endanger lives, but also negatively affect the economy, for example by drying out the land, destroying the crops. However, in other places in the world flights are canceled because airplanes aren’t able to function properly in such hot air.

Keep in mind that increase in average surface temperature of the Earth means more and more frequent occurrence of warm , very warm or hot days. This means a higher probability of occurrence of heat waves – in Europe the heat waves are already three times more frequent and two times longer than at the end of the nineteenth century. -says Aleksandra Kardaś, atmospheric physicist. The situation in areas where high humidity prevents cooling of the body is serious. That is why the reports of the deadly heat come to us primarily from India or Pakistan. Over time, the range of such dangerous combinations – extreme temperatures and humidity – will widen.

Unfortunately, scientists are predicting that heat waves will be more frequent. That is why, especially now, we should take care of our safety. Keep in mind that temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius (in shade) are extremely dangerous for humans. During the heat wave it is very important to drink a lot of water to prevent dehydration and overheating of the body. Unfortunately, after the heat,usually a violent storm passes,often destructive in effect.

Will phenomena cause catastrophes or will they only be a major impediment? It all depends on our actions, economic decisions. Climate change is being driven by greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels. By the middle of the century, we should give up fossil fuels if we want to have a chance to avoid a critical point.