Climate change

Stanisław Małek, Anita Bokwa, Andrzej Bytnerowicz

The state of the art

Climate change is one of the most important environmental challenges that the global society has to face. Main issues and challenges concern the extent and spatial patterns of the changes observed, improvement of modelling tools and decreasing the uncertainty of predictions, mainly by downscaling the climatic models and verification of the results obtained.

Climate change, and in particular changes in air temperature and precipitation, are closely linked to changes in other elements of the natural environment and to changes in many sectors of economy. Probably the most important issues concerning the consequences of climate change, specific to the Carpathians, are biodiversity (includingpotential effects on forest health), water supply and deteriorating conditions for recreational winter sports, especially skiing (

In 2014, the Fifth Assessment Report of IPCC has been published and in the years 2010-2013, the CARPATCLIM project has been realized. The outcomes of both those initiatives present the current findings concerning climate change. The CARPATCLIM results show the climatic issues in the scale of the whole Carpathian chain. For example, regarding precipitation, no relevant significant trend in the Carpathians in the period 1961–2010 was found, though the last decades showed a small increase versus the 1980s, the driest decade analyzed. Minimum and maximum air temperature significantly increased in the Carpathian Region in the period 1961–2010, but t max increased more than t min, especially in spring and summer, with a larger rise in the last 30 years. On an annual basis, in the period 1981–2010, t min increased by 0.44C per decade, t max by 0.59C per decade, and mean temperature by 0.51C per decade. If such an increase persists to the end of the 21st century, the Carpathians could experience a temperature rise of 4–6C compared to the average of the period 1961–2010, which may cause devastating effects on the biosphere. Within the CARPATCLIM project, a gridded data sets were completed, for various meteorological elements, and made accessible for the public. However, the original data from meteorological stations for the whole Carpathian region are still not accessible, neither for the research institutions, nor for other parties interested.

Apart from the large-scale activities, regional climatic studies were also realized. For example, in the Slovak Carpathians, an increase of average annual temperature by ~1.1°C was observed in the 20th century, accompanied by the decrease of annual precipitation by ~5.6%. However, in the southern Slovakia, total precipitation decreased of more than 10% while in the north and north-east part it increased of up to 3% (Tibor Priwitzer and Hana Pavlendowa, personal communication, 2014). In 2015, a monograph “Climate of the Romanian Carpathians” was published (D.M. Micu, A. Dumitrescu, S. Cheval, M.-V. Birsan, Springer Atmospheric Sciences).

In the years 2011-2013, the CarpathCC project was accomplished and in the period 2010-2013 the CARPIVIA project was completed. The outcomes of those two projects present the interactions and impacts of climate change on particular economic sectors, together with the proposals of political solutions. In the IPCC report, those issues are also discussed but in the scale of the whole European continent.

In July 2014, “Strategic agenda on adaptation to climate change in the Carpathian region” has been developed by the Working Group on Adaptation to Climate Change under the Carpathian Convention. It holds recommendations for policy development, institutional change and ecosystem based adaptation measures.

Further steps

The research issues in global and continental scale remain the same as described above, but more local research is needed. The general findings in the large scales are of limited applicability in concrete, local actions.

Common international projects realized by research institutions from the Carpathian countries should be established. They should concentrate on observed and predicted impacts of climate change on specific economic sectors in a local scale. So far many institutions from non-Carpathian countries were involved in various Carpathian projects and some results obtained seem to be of limited innovative value and applicability for specific Carpathian communities. For the international projects mentioned, a common data base from the well-coordinated monitoring on a network of original meteorological stations in the Carpathian region is needed. There is also a need for more local/national initiatives aimed to transfer the scientific information to the society, in order to rise and improve the public awareness concerning the environmental changes, including climate change, in the Carpathian region.

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