Climatologist: Until 2050 the course is set, but we can influence what happens after that

Temperature swings, heavy storms and flash floods have become a regular feature of the Czech summer. In late June, the country moreover experienced an unseen event in human memory-a tornado that ripped through seven villages leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. Climatologists say it’s time to sit up and take notice- the once temperate Central European climate is a thing of the past.

Over the last 60 years, the climate in the Czech Republic has warmed by an average 2 degrees Celsius. The number of summer days, when the temperature exceeds 25 degrees, are double the number they were half a century ago. Meteorological data show that in the 1960s, there were on average 4 to 5 “tropical days” when the temperature rose above 30 degrees Celsius in the course of a summer. In the last decade, the number of such days has been 13.5 on average, including in the mountain regions, which are generally cooler.

Climatologist Pavel Zahradníček | Photo: Tomáš Sedláček,  Czech Radio

According to climate models, the trend will continue. If the average temperature rises by another 2 to 4 degrees in the coming years, the number of tropical days will double or triple in a relatively short time. Climatologist Pavel Zahradníček from the CzechGlobe Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences says global warming is taking place faster than anticipated.

"When we look at the climate models we worked with, we can see that they severely underestimated the changes that have taken place. The number of very hot days that we now have in the course of a summer is something that was expected in 2040 and if we look at the data from 2015 which was an extreme year – those figures were not expected until 2080.”

According to Zahradníček it will be at least 20 to 30 years before the steps taken to curb carbon dioxide emissions and other measures to fight global warming will have any effect in mitigating the changes in temperature.

“It is clear from the models we have that no matter what action we take against climate change now until 2050 the trajectory will remain the same. That is already set. 2050, or thereabouts, will be a turning point which will decide whether global warming will slow or accelerate. That we can still influence, but the next 30 years are given and so in addition to measures aimed at mitigating global warming, we will need to take adaptation measures for the change that will inevitably come.”

Photo: Tumisu,  Pixabay,  CC0 1.0 DEED

The predictions are that by the end of the 21st century, the climate in the Czech Republic will resemble that in the north of Italy, Bulgaria or in the north of Greece. It will not be a typical Mediterranean climate like in Sicily, but there will be a definite shift to a southern climate, especially in the Elbe region, southern Moravia, Slovakia or Lower Austria.

In addition to the negative effects, climate change will also bring some advantages, for example in agriculture. In the foreseeable future, for example, the climate here could be suitable for growing truffles, while the south of the continent will be too warm for them. Climatologists say that the possibilities for Czech winemakers should also significantly improve. At the same time, however, pests and various fungi unknown to Czech farmers can start to appear.

In order to prepare winegrowers and farmers for the changes ahead the institute has launched a special website, which warns of the problems linked to a warmer climate, both for crops and livestock.