Air quality and climate change, as two crucial environmental emergencies confronting our societies, are still generally viewed as separate problems requiring different research and policy frameworks. However, they should rightfully be viewed as two sides of the same coin. What we truly need to seek, therefore, are “win-win” solutions.
Arctic glaciers respond quickly to climatic conditions, which is why they play a special role as climate warming indicators. Studying them in the long term is the key to understanding future global environmental changes.
In 1979, Pope John Paul II spent just nine days in his home country, Poland. This historic pilgrimage lead to a ‘spiritual revolution’ that culminated in the peaceful collapse of the authoritarian regime in Poland, and eventually to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Could leaders of the Christian churches today spark a similar ‘spiritual revolution’ to combat manmade climate change?
Prof. Tandong Yao and Prof. Fahu Chen describe our growing understanding of climate change impacts in the “Pan-Third Pole” region, discussing both coping strategies and research initiatives focusing on the region.
The aim of this study was to provide an estimation of climate variability in the Hornsund area in Southern Spitsbergen in the period 1976-2100. The climatic variables were obtained from the Polar-CORDEX initiative in the form of time series of daily air temperature and precipitation derived from four global circulation models (GCMs) following representative concentration pathways (RCP) RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 emission scenarios. In the first stage of the analysis, simulations for the reference period from 1979 to 2005 were compared with observations at the Polish Polar Station Hornsund from the same period of time. In the second step, climatic projections were derived and monthly and annual means/sums were analysed as climatic indices. Following the standard methods of trend analysis, the changes of these indices over three time periods - the reference period 1976-2005, the near-future period 2021-2050, and far-future period 2071-2100 - were examined. The projections of air temperature were consistent. All analysed climate models simulated an increase of air temperature with time. Analyses of changes at a monthly scale indicated that the largest increases were estimated for winter months (more than 11°C for the far future using the RCP 8.5 scenario). The analyses of monthly and annual sums of precipitation also indicated increasing tendencies for changes with time, with the differences between mean monthly sums of precipitation for the near future and the reference period similar for each months. In the case of changes between far future and reference periods, the highest increases were projected for the winter months.
The article presents the biometeorological impact of thermal and humidity conditions on the human body in the Hornsund area in the southern Spitsbergen, Svalbard. This was determined based on diurnal air temperature range, the day-to-day variation in average diurnal air temperature and the average diurnal relative humidity. The temporal variability of thermal and humidity biometeorological stimuli in Hornsund was examined for the period 01.11.1978–31.12.2017. A lessening of biometeorological impact was found in the southern Spitsbergen region, including a statistically significant negative trend in strongly- and severely-felt stimuli (according to diurnal air temperature range), and in significant and severe stimuli (according to day-to-day variation in average diurnal air temperature). A non-significant positive trend was observed in the number of days of relative humidity with humid and very humid air. To analyse the spatial variability of the stimuli around the Hornsund fjord, data were used from seven year-round measuring stations for the period 01.07.2014–31.06.2015. The most unfavourable conditions were found on the Hans Glacier, on the summit of Fugleberget and inside the fjord. The paper presents the role of atmospheric circulation on thermal and humidity stimuli. In the Hornsund region, the highest probability of unfavourable sensible temperatures for humans occurring during the year was mostly in winter and early spring. This was related to the advection of air masses from the north-east sector, regardless of baric regime type. It was found that very humid air (> 85%) flowed over Hornsund for practically the entire year from the S–SW as part of both cyclonic and anti-cyclonic systems.
The comparison of the years 1981/82 and 1984/85 on the background of long term climatic observations on Svalbard suggest that two seasons compared belong to extremely different ones with regard to the sea ice, air temperature and biological phenomena. Despite meteorological and hydrological differences, the phytoplankton bloom and breeding period of major crustaceans were placed in the same time of the year. Differences were noted in the structure of zooplankton community, abundance of sea birds and mammals.
Lacustrine deposits from Ortel Królewski II (Eastern Poland) represent the Holsteinian Interglacial (MIS 11c). They are characterized by an extremely rich occurrence of ostracod and mollusc fauna. Collected samples represent pre-optimal part of the Holsteinian Interglacial corresponding to Picea–Alnus, Taxus and Pinus–Larix zones. Based on ostracod assemblage analysis a depth of the paleolake, the energy of the environment and the average January and July air temperature were reconstructed. Ostracods from Ortel Królewski II indicate a lake with possible periodic overflow sur- rounded by periodically flooded grasslands, which existed in the study area during the pre-optimal part of Holsteinian Interglacial.
The food and foraging strategy of fifteen species of seabirds and sea mammals from two high Arctic fjords were analysed. One of the fjords, Kongsfjord, is strongly influenced by warm waters from the Atlantic , while Hornsund is of a more Arctic character. Prey species in the Atlantic waters were more diverse (82 species and 16 functional groups) compared to those of Arctic waters (67 prey species and 14 functional groups). The consumption of top predators from Hornsund in the peak season of July was estimated at 2.86*106 MJ, while that in Kongsfjord was 1.35*106 MJ. For the analysed function of the ecosystem (the transfer of energy to the top trophic levels) the specific character of prey species is of key importance and not the diversity, abundance or biomass per se. Lower species diversity and biomass in Arctic waters is compensated for by the occurrence of larger individuals of these species, which permits top predators to prey directly on lower trophic levels.
The purpose of this article is to present contemporary climatic changes in their actual scale, and to assess their impact on functioning of urban areas situated on the Polish coast. The results of the analysis of variability of hydro-climatic conditions that occurred in the last 65 years (1951-2015) in the area of the Polish coast suggest that important changes were concerning: (1) temperature of the air, and thickness and length of the occurrence of the snow cover, (2) sea surface temperature, and thickness and length of the occurrence of ice cover, (3) sea level rise during storm surges. It was found, however, that the occurrence of catastrophic fl oods from precipitation in the Tri-City area is not the result of climate change, but it is caused by local conditions. The observed increase of air temperatures, and average sea surface temperatures in the Southern Baltic has generally a positive impact on functioning of coastal cities, and does not need any complex adaptation plans to climate changes. Summer is the only period in which the increase of temperature infl uence cities negatively, due to strengthening the urban heat islands. In this case, the architectural solutions, that require large amounts of energy should be eliminated. In urban planning scale, the solutions helping to cool the space in between buildings should be implemented. Sea level rise in the years 2009-2015, caused by storm surges, should be regarded as a signifi cant change in the climate of the Southern Baltic Sea. Taking these changes into account maps of hazard and flood risk, developed in an ISOK project, should be the basis for detailed records in Study of Conditions and Directions of Spatial Development and local development plans of cities, determining the rules and restrictions of the investment and management in the areas at risk of flooding.
The pace of climate change observed since the beginning of the industrial era has prompted scientists to seriously consider whether human activity is to blame for global warming. On the geological timescale, however, climate change is certainly nothing new or exceptional – as is clear when one looks at the record of plant and animal fossils.
When a certain Buddhist monk was once setting out on a long, difficult journey, he chose as his traveling companion a servant who was known for having a rebellious and quarrelsome nature. When asked why, he replied that he wanted to practice patience and humility. One might say that the three years when I headed the international CHIHE project were a similar lesson in virtues.
Climate change has been affecting plants over the last century and caused changes in life history features such as the flowering time. Herbarium specimens provide a snapshot of the past environmental conditions during their collection. The collection date in a herbarium specimen is a good proxy to determine the flowering period (phenology). In this study, phenological data from subarctic plant specimens collected over 100 years were gathered by using one of the largest herbarium databases in the World. The collection dates of 7146 herbarium specimens were analyzed and significant shifts in the phenology of subarctic plants were detected. In this study, most of the analyzed 142 species in a subarctic biogeographic region tended to flower earlier in the 1950–2018 period compared to the 1900–1949 as a possible result of the climate change. Flowering time shifted from 8 to 26 days in some species. Changes in flowering time may alter species interactions, community composition, and species distribution in a region. Therefore, results of this study may shed light on the possible shifts in phenology and plant responses under the climate change.
Pewien buddyjski mnich wybierał się w długą i uciążliwą podróż. Jako towarzysza podroży wziął służącego, który znany był z krnąbrności i kłótliwości. Zapytany o powód tego wyboru oświadczył, że chce się ćwiczyć w cierpliwości i skromności. Dla mnie taką nauką były trzy lata prowadzenia międzynarodowego projektu CHIHE.
A 2.5−metre−long marine core from Isvika bay in Nordaustlandet (80 ° N, 18 ° E) was AMS 14 C dated and analysed for its sedimentological and magnetic parameters. The studied record was found to cover the entire Holocene and indicates major turnovers in the palaeohydrography and sedimentary depositional history. The area was deglaciated at around 11,300 BP. The early Holocene has indications of rapid melting of glaciers and frequent deposition of ice−rafted debris (IRD). The climatic optimum terminated with a probable glacier re−advance event occurring ca. 5800 cal BP. This event caused the deposition of a diamicton unit in Isvika bay, followed by a shift towards a colder and a more stratified hydrographic set − ting. The reduction in IRD indicates gradual cooling, which led to the stratification of the bay and eventually to more persistent fast sea−ice conditions by 2500 cal BP. For the last 500 years, Isvika has again been seasonally open.
Meteorological conditions at Arctowski Station during 2013–2017 were presented against the background of regional climate changes, especially air temperature decline. Air temperature, relative air humidity, air pressure, solar radiation, wind speed and direction, snow cover and precipitation were collected with an automatic weather station and manual measurements and were further analysed. The obtained results were compared with data from previous years and with data from other stations located on King George Island. Our observations confirm that the vicinity of Arctowski Station experienced a decrease in air temperature during summer, which supports the hypothesis of regional cooling.
A sediment core, 350 cm long recovered from Młynek Lake, northern of Poland (Warmia and Masuria Region) was analyzed with respect to their content of diatoms and chrysophyte cysts. The aim was to reconstruct the lake water level and climatic changes during the past 2500 years. The recognized diatom assemblages displayed marked floristic changes along the sediment core samples. The main change in diatom composition consists of a shift from an assemblage dominated by benthic Fragilaria sensu lato species through marked intervals to a planktonic one in distinct zones. A high proportion of benthic to plankton taxa has been reported as indicative for a lowering of the lake level with long ice cover in a cold dry climate and a shift from benthic to planktonic diatom taxa reflects arising water level with longest growing season and reduced ice cover on the lake during a warm wet climate. Multivariate statistical analysis included hierarchical ascending clustering distinguished four diatom ecological groups. The analyzed core section was divided into 11 diatom zones according to a distribution of ecological groups and variation in abundance of dominant species supported by 14C data. The results displayed a developmental history of the Młynek Lake that can be divided into 6 main phases of alternating warm wet and cold dry shifts. A distinct dominance of planktonic eutrophic indicator diatoms accompanied by a low abundance of chrysophyte cysts indicates increased lake trophicity and a general trend for the increasing anthropogenic impact.
Improving energy efficiency is key to moving toward sustainable development. It contributes to the reduction of energy consumption and carbon emissions, as well as to climate change mitigation. Indicators of energy efficiency play an important role in this field because their improvement is targeted by policy makers. Indicators based on the ratio between energy consumption and gross domestic product (GDP) are currently used by multiple key organizations, including Eurostat and the World Bank, as the main energy efficiency indicators. This study examines the most widely used indicators and identifies their deficiencies. Over the last decades, these indicators tend to show a continuous strong improvement, signifying positive progress toward energy efficiency, even in cases when the physical consumption of energy has increased significantly. This phenomenon is based on GDP adjustment. The energy intensity of economies, used currently to measure energy efficiency, masks problems and has led to the green labeling of wealthier economies. An analysis of energy efficiencies reported for multiple countries and the structure of their energy spending shows that the reported values are counterproductive for comparing economies in the context of environmental protection. The indicators sanction economies with low energy consumption and low or moderate GDP. The economies belonging to the group of the largest energy spenders per capita are labeled highly efficient because of GDP adjustment. Decision makers are therefore prompted to focus on GDP growth even at the cost of a major increase in energy consumption. An additional problem in the indicators is that they do not properly model international trade. The responsibility for energy spending is shifted toward the producers of energy-intensive goods and services. Energy intensity is a useful indicator to measure the resistance of an economy to the volatilities of energy prices. However, the challenges in the fields of environmental pollution and climate change are related to physical processes and energy consumption rather than to changes in the GDP or the monetary valuation of products and services. Indicators measuring energy efficiency as GDP per unit of energy use are inadequate and misleading as principal tools to measure energy efficiency.