By 2050−2059, the absolute maximum air temperature is expected to increase to + 39-41 °C in Belarus. Due to dangerous natural phenomena, the economy has been losing about $100 million annually.
The alarming news was made public at the roundtable “Belarus and global climate change” last week in Minsk.
Hot and hotter
Since 1989, the average annual air temperature in Belarus has increased by 1.3 degrees. The most significant temperature increase occurred in winter and spring months.
Seven of the 20 warmest years since 1981 are dated by 2010-2018. According to local climatologists, the end of the last and the beginning of this century was the longest period of warming for the last 130 years.
Besides, being protracted, the peculiarity of the current warming is higher air temperature. As a result, the period with snow cover decreased by 10–15 days, and the depth of freezing decreased by 6–10 cm.
The vegetation period in Belarus begins earlier, and its duration increased by an average of 12 days.
Bye-bye, $100 million
According to the World Bank study, the estimated damage to industries caused by natural phenomena is about $100 million annually and Belarus is no exception.
The largest share of losses accounted for agriculture (42%) and the fuel and energy sector (19%). Climate change affects the work of transport, the construction industry, and public utilities.
It increases the number of hot days, periods of drought, heatwaves in the cold period and precipitation intensity. Growing conditions for crops typical for Belarus – potatoes, flax, cabbage – are worsening.
The fire hazard in forests and peat bogs increases, the groundwater level decreases paving the way to mass reproduction of forest pests. Finally, warming leads to increased energy costs (air conditioning).
Although there’s a positive side: an increase in the length of the growing season and the efficiency of crop production. Obviously, the shorter the winter period enables lower costs during the heating season.
In agriculture, the choice of crops has changed too. In the Brest and Gomel regions, barley and soybean are sown, the areas for rapeseed, peas, sugar corn, and asparagus were expanded. Grape plantations are under construction.
Turning into Sahara?
By 2050−2059, the absolute maximum air temperature is expected to increase to + 39-41 °C in Belarus, while the number of hot days with + 25 ° C temperature and higher will increase.
At the same time, the minimum temperature will decrease, and by the middle of the century, there will be no frosts from -25 ° C and below at all.
In general, a decrease in the number of days with low air temperatures is expected in the winter season. By the middle of the century, the heating season may be reduced by 15–20 days.
The increase in daily maximum precipitation is expected throughout the year, with higher-intensity precipitation in the summer period.
Such a trend has already been observed throughout the country in the last decade. And by 2050−2059, the amount of precipitation in winter will increase by 30 mm.
What to do?
A number of measures to overcome the negative effects of global warming have already being taken in Belarus. Their detailed description can be found in the state program for 2013–2020.
In addition, Belarus plans t adopt a Long-Term Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions Development Strategies and a national action plan for adaptation to climate change by 2022.
Finally, within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, by 2030, Belarus should reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 28% to the 1990 level.