These regions of Poland may be under water – what awaits us?

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Progressive climate change breeds uncertainty about the future. While many areas of the world will be subject to gradual desiccation and even desertification, others are threatened with catastrophic flooding. Both extremes are likely scenarios for Poland as well, and according to experts, some regions of our country could be underwater within a few decades. But the bad news doesn’t end there – the latest forecasts also foretell the accelerated arrival of a new ice age. Will we actually find ourselves under a layer of ice?

What about groundwater?

In January 2024. The State Hydrogeological Service (PSH) has published a periodic report on the current hydrogeological situation in the country. It shows that the vast majority of the territory has seen an increase in the water table in the first aquifer. Groundwater resources were considered safe for supplying the population. The hydrogeological low was found in some parts of the Pomeranian, West Pomeranian, Warmian-Masurian and Greater Poland Voivodeships – but its extent was lower than in previous months.

However, some areas of the country, in the event of an unfavorable rainfall scenario, may be under water in the coming days. According to the Institute of Meteorology and Water Management-State Research Institute (IMGW-PIB), as of February 21 this year. Flood risk alert status has been registered in many places. The water level in the Oder River exceeded 450 cm at some measurement points, and in Bielinek it even reached 557 cm. Alert status was also recorded on the Widawa, Barycz, Ssiecznica, Orla, Warta, Obra and Mosina Canal.

Will part of Poland be permanently underwater?

The threat of flooding, for the time being, is seasonal in our country and is related to the intensity of precipitation and the rate of melting of the snow cover. However, long-term forecasts assume that some regions could be permanently underwater due to rising sea levels.

According to a model prepared by Climate Central, an independent group of scientists, climate change will put vast areas of Pomerania under water by 2050, from Gdansk through Zulawy to Elblag and further south to Brudzady and Swiety Gaj. In the west of the country, the threat of permanent flooding includes parts of Szczecin and Wolin Island, the Oder coast up to Cedynia, the area around Kamień Pomorski, and further Mrzeźno and Dźwirzyno. Areas around Darlowo, Puck, Beka and Rewa may also be under water.

Recall that since the pre-industrial era, the average global sea level has already risen by 21-24 cm. This phenomenon is caused by the massive melting of glaciers and ice sheets while the volume of water increases due to rising temperatures. The whole process is related to global warming, which in turn is due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Even if we achieve the zero-carbon policy goals, it is possible that sea levels will rise another 30 cm by the end of the century.

A new ice age?

pic. derepente/depositphotos

Dutch scientists also have a bad prognosis for us, which can be compared to the proverbial bucket of cold water. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), one of the most important drivers of global climate, is approaching a tipping point, according to a study published this month in the journal ScienceAdvances. So far, this unusual mechanism has helped distribute energy around the Earth and modulate the effects of man-made global warming.

Currently, all indications are that the AMOC is at its weakest in more than a thousand years and may soon collapse completely due to melting glaciers and changes in ocean salinity. Scientists predict that this will happen before a century has passed and will have catastrophic consequences. The Atlantic level will rise by as much as 1 meter, and the rainy and dry seasons will reverse, which will be deadly for the rainforests. Temperatures in the southern hemisphere will rise, while in Europe the climate will cool dramatically and precipitation will weaken.

The changes would be particularly felt in northern Europe, where temperatures could drop by 10-30°C. The weather in London will resemble that in Stockholm, while Stockholm will experience Siberian winters. What doesn’t go underwater can therefore freeze. The more precise date of the announced disaster so far remains a great unknown – Prof. Potsdam-based Rahmstorf warns, however, that the crisis could be experienced by the next generation.

Photo. main: courtesy of OSP Zabrodzie Ksrg

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