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How Modernizing Radar Systems in Poland Can Support Climate Change Mitigation

Every year, the world's population sees an increase in extreme weather events causing flash floods and droughts. Climate change increasingly affects countries around the globe, including Poland. Therefore, efficient forecasting of extreme weather occurrences is more important than ever to protect people and their property.

Rafał Lewandowski, an employee of Poland’s Institute of Meteorology and Water Management (IMGW), was there when the meteorological radar in Legionowo near Warsaw went up 20 years ago. Since then, Mr. Lewandowski has built his life around protecting citizens from extreme weather occurrences. He lives with his family just beside the radar tower in a forested area on the outskirts of the city and supervises the work of the radar, taking the 50-meter climb to the top of the radar tower every day.

“The location is good, and the necessary services are close, although my older daughter would like to have her friends closer,” says Mr. Lewandowski.

The Legionowo radar is one of eight meteorological Doppler radars scattered across Poland that observe the atmosphere to produce accurate forecasts and warn against potentially dangerous extreme weather occurrences such as torrential rain, storms, or hail. Combined, the radars form the POLRAD system, which is a key element of meteorological protection in Poland. Each radar can detect precipitation within a radius of 250 kilometers and wind within a radius of 125 kilometers.

The new radar will have a higher power, allowing us to eliminate disturbances and closely monitor all weather occurrences in a 250-kilometer radius.
Rafał Lewandowski
Institute of Meteorology and Water Management, Poland

POLRAD went up with the World Bank’s support two decades ago, a time of strong technological progress, and is now due for an upgrade. A newly upgraded Legionowo radar is a state-of-the-art device that will substantially improve forecasting for citizens.

“The new radar will have a higher power, allowing us to eliminate disturbances and closely monitor all weather occurrences in a 250-kilometer radius,” says Mr. Lewandowski. “It’s dual-polarization feature will allow us to distinguish the type of precipitation: snow, rain or hail. It will also bring more frequent and more accurate data for better forecasts”.

Since IMGW makes its data available to citizens via its open website, the data harvested by the Legionowo radar will even be useful for bikers, who will know whether to take a prolonged lunch break and wait for the storm to pass or perhaps to cut a trip short or postpone it altogether, Mr. Lewandowski says.

The time is right for improving weather forecasting In Poland. In the latest World Bank Citizen Survey on Climate Change for Europe and Central Asia, Poles voiced concerns about extreme weather events – nearly 40 percent of them is afraid of more frequent and severe floods.

While the overall level of precipitation has been stable in the country over the last century, days with heavy rain (over 10 mm) have become increasingly frequent and may become even more common as the average temperature rises. Poland, given the size of its economy and its geography, is a country with the second-highest annual average GDP affected by floods in the Europe and Central Asia region.

As part of the recommended climate mitigation actions, the World Bank under its flagship Odra-Vistula Flood Management Project is modernizing all existing radars in Poland. Also, two new radars will be built, including one in north-eastern Poland, a region that lacked adequate coverage.


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