More than half of Poland’s territory is at serious risk of drought amid heat wave

(ORDO NEWS) — An extended period of hot and dry weather, with temperatures reaching up to 38°C (100°F) in some places, has put more than half of Poland under serious drought risk, state agency Polish Waters (PGW WP) said.

More than 170 municipalities (gminas) across the country have imposed restrictions on water use, with many Polish rivers and other water sources running at dangerously low levels.

“The high temperatures of the past few days have shown that drought is a big problem in Poland,” PGW WP said in a statement on Friday. The analysis showed that 55.64% of the country’s territory is under serious threat of drought.

As in many other parts of Europe, Poland has recently experienced unusually hot weather. Last month, the western city of Slubice recorded the country’s hottest June temperature of 38.3°C. Since then, the heat has continued.

Since then, the heat has continued, and last week in some places the temperature again reached 35-38°C, setting a number of local temperature records for July, the weather service DobraPogoda24 notes.

As a result of the prevailing conditions, water levels in many parts of the country have dropped to dangerously low levels. Parts of the Oder River between Scinawa and Glogow (pictured at the beginning of the article) have become unnavigable due to lack of water, authorities in the nearby town of Lubin say.

At the other end of the country, in the Podkarpackie Voivodeship, the San River has also dried up in places, said local councilor Miroslav Pela, who shared pictures of the low water levels on Facebook.

By the end of last week, 173 municipalities across the country had imposed water restrictions on residents, TVN reported. More are expected to follow suit. In one of them, Wola Mala in Podkarpattya, tap water is turned on for only six hours a day.

Much of the problem is the lack of water retention systems, according to Joanna Remiszewska-Mihalak, an atmospheric physicist and climate expert, TVN reports. According to her, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that in many Polish cities, areas that used to have vegetation are being concreted.

Another major concern is the impact of drought on agriculture, which could exacerbate already rapidly rising inflation. Agricultural drought conditions have been identified in 15 of Poland’s 16 voivodships.

“The shortage of water for cultivated crops has increased, leading to water shortages throughout the country,” the Institute of Soil and Crop Science noted in its latest report, covering the period up to June 20.

Krzysztof Wojnowski, a 150-hectare farmer in Trzementow, north-central Poland, told state broadcaster TVP that crop yields will be 30-40% lower this year as a result of hot weather. Other local farmers made similar predictions, TVP reports.

“There is a risk that agricultural production, including cereals, fruits and vegetables, will be lower this year, and therefore prices will rise significantly,” said Jakub Olipra, senior expert at Credit Agricole. These effects will be noticeable in the second half of this year, added Mariusz Dziwulski from PKO BP.

This development is part of a long-term trend towards hotter and drier conditions in Poland, according to the State Institute of Meteorology and Water Resources (IMWM-PIB). The average temperature in June last year was 2.5°C above the long-term average, while precipitation was almost 17% less.

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