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Prepare for crises, or "Atlas of the effects of extreme phenomena in Poland."

Wiktor Bochenek
09 of March '23

The problem with the climate crisis is that we treat it as a problem that will come one day. However, this is not the case, and extreme weather events will increase in the coming years. What to do about it?

As part of our #ReportThursday series, we present documents, reports and guides on architecture, cities and local governments that are certainly worth publicizing and promoting. This week we look at the report "Atlas of the effects of extreme phenomena in Poland," prepared by the Institute of Environmental Protection - National Research Institute.

The study, edited by Dr. Ewelina Swiec, focuses on the analysis of the effects of extreme phenomena in Poland in the past few years, with a breakdown of the hazards that affect each of Poland's sixteen provinces. The study singles out the regions that have suffered the most in recent years, distinguishing the scale and economic impact associated with these phenomena. To a large extent, the document focuses on problems related to agriculture, but does not pass over infrastructure and urban issues.

The document is available on the website of the Environmental Institute.

Straty spowodowane zjawiskami ekstremalnymi w Polsce w latach 2001-2019 (ceny stałe 2020)

Losses caused by extreme phenomena in Poland in 2001-2019 (constant prices 2020)

© Institute of Environmental Protection - National Research Institute

prepare for the worst

Distinguishing specific problems as well as extreme phenomena is essential in the context of limiting unfavorable changes in the future. What conclusions can be drawn from the document?

The primary one is the need to improve systems for monitoring and warning residents of threats. This does not apply only to phenomena such as droughts or floods, but also to heat waves, which, with a warming climate, will become increasingly difficult to bear, especially for the older part of the population. Such activities necessarily bet on the provision of appropriate equipment and supplies, if only in rescue.

Agriculture faces a major threat. There is a need to ensure that agricultural production can be carried out under changed climatic conditions, is resistant to most extreme events, and is sufficient to feed a growing population. It is necessary to increase water retention in a way that does not interfere with the environment (issues of land reclamation or mid-field afforestation), but also to introduce crops with reduced water requirements.

The report's authors also recommend preparing municipal infrastructure by expanding blue-green infrastructure and, as in agrarian issues, expanding water retention. This allows to create better conditions for microclimates.

The document is available on the website of the Institute of Environmental Protection.

Szacunkowa wartość strat w procentach PKB w Polsce w latach 2001-2019

Estimated value of losses as a percentage of GDP in Poland in 2001-2019

© Institute of Environmental Protection - National Research Institute

to whom is the atlas addressed?

"The Atlas of the Effects of Extreme Events in Poland" is a publication whose use does not have to end with public institutions dealing with crisis management - the knowledge contained in the document can calmly be used by architects, urban planners or local government officials. Appropriate adjustment of construction, public infrastructure or urban grid can allow to reduce financial losses and more. The atlas can be useful to everyone, because climate change isn't going anywhere.

Procentowy udział zjawisk ekstremalnych stanowiących przyczynę strat w rolnictwie w latach 2017-2019

Percentage of extreme events accounting for agricultural losses in 2017-2019

© Institute of Environmental Protection - National Research Institute

Dr. Ewelina Siwiec, an expert of the National Climate Change Center at the Institute of Environmental Protection - National Research Institute , answered questions about the publication especially for us

Wiktor Bochenek: How can monitoring of extreme phenomena in Poland contribute to reducing losses ?

Dr. Ewelina Siwiec: The basis for implementing measures that can contribute to reducing losses due to extreme events is knowledge gained through observations, measurements, data collection and analysis. The use of reliable data increases the degree of certainty of scientific research and builds awareness of the impact of weather and climate extremes on the environment, economy and society. Extensive monitoring of extreme phenomena supports residents' early warning systems, informing them of potential hazards and health risks.

However, knowledge of extreme phenomena includes not only knowledge of the specifics and nature of the phenomena, but also issues related to the subsequent assessment of their effects. Documentation of information on damage and losses caused by weather and climate extremes is important in the implementation of disaster recovery tasks. Data on the effects of extreme phenomena make it possible to identify areas of particular vulnerability to the consequences of climate change. The issue of collecting data on the effects of extremes is gaining particular importance in the world, as it makes policy makers aware that effective management is possible primarily in the case of "measurable" areas.

Making accurate decisions acquires exceptional importance, especially when human life and health depend on them. Repair of material damage, such as damage to infrastructure, is possible with adequate funding, while it should not be forgotten that behind every extreme event are the tragedies of people who have lost loved ones, health or the achievements of their entire lives as a result of a natural disaster. It is these, often overlooked psychological consequences - invisible, difficult to show in a measurable way - that are the most socially acute. For this reason, one of the main objectives of activities contributing to the reduction of losses, namely those related to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, is the protection of human life and health.

Każde województwo jest przestawione w Atlasie

Each province is repositioned in the Atlas

© Institute of Environmental Protection - National Research Institute

Wiktor Bochenek: To whom is this document addressed? Who can use it?

Dr. Ewelina Siwiec: The recipient of the "Atlas of the Effects of Extreme Events in Poland" can be any person interested in the problem of climate change, its impact on the economy and society. However, the study can be particularly useful to specialists in the field of, for example, landscape architecture, for whom data of a regional nature on losses in municipal infrastructure will be important. They may provide some hint as to areas where there is an urgent need to implement adaptation measures related to, for example, the expansion of blue-green infrastructure. Policymakers, in turn, can use the "Atlas" in the process of directing funds for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction activities. The data contained in our document can also be successfully used by scientists for work in the field of climate change risk analysis.

The document is available on the website of the Institute of Environmental Protection.

Wiktor Bochenek

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