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Local-scale analysis of temperature patterns over Poland during heatwave events

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Heatwaves are predicted to increase in frequency, duration, and severity in the future, including over Central Europe where populations are sensitive to extreme temperature. This paper studies six recent major heatwave events over Poland from 2006 through 2015 using regional-scale simulations (10-km grid spacing, hourly frequency) from the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model to define local-scale 2-m temperature patterns. For this purpose, a heatwave is defined as at least three consecutive days with maximum 2-m air temperature exceeding 30 °C. The WRF simulations were validated using maximum daily 2-m temperature observations from 12 meteorological stations in select Polish cities, which were selected to have even spatial coverage across the study area. Synoptic analysis of the six study events shows that the inflow of tropical air masses from the south is the primary driver of heatwave onset and maintenance, the highest temperatures (and most vulnerable areas) occur over arable land and artificial surfaces in central and western Poland, while coastal areas in the north, mountain areas in the south, and forested and mosaic areas of smaller fields and pastures of the northwest, northeast, and southeast are less affected by prolonged periods of elevated temperatures. In general, regional differences in 2-m temperature between the hottest and coolest areas is about 2–4 °C. Large urban areas like Warsaw, or the large complex of artificial areas in the conurbation of Silesian cities, are also generally warmer than surrounding areas by roughly 2–4 °C, and even up to 6 °C, especially during the night. Additionally, hot air from the south of Poland flows through a low-lying area between two mountain ranges (Sudetes and Carpathian Mountains)—the so-called Moravian Gate—hitting densely populated urban areas (Silesian cities) and Cracow. These patterns occur only during high-pressure synoptic conditions with low cloudiness and wind and without any active fronts or mesoscale convective disturbances.

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Correspondence to Agnieszka Krzyżewska.

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Figure 1

The synoptic maps from all six heatwave events from 00 UTC (left: the conditions on the first day of the event, right: the conditions during the hottest day of the event), (a,g) Event 1, (b, h) Event 2, (c, i) Event 3, (d, j) Event 4, (e, k) Event 5, (f, l) Event 6 (see Table 1 for associated dates of events). The markings on the maps are interpreted as follows: W – atmospheric high, N – atmospheric low, PZ – tropical air, PPk – polar continental air, PPm – Polar maritime air, PPmc – polar maritime warm air. The source of the maps are archives of the Polish Institute of Meteorology and Water Management (IMGW), recently available at: (JPEG 929 kb)

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Figure 2

Average simulated 500-hPa geopotential height and 2-m mean temperature from the WRF model for all study events over the respective event time frames: (a) Event 1 (2006), (b) Event 2 (2010), (c) Event 3 (2012), (d) Event 4 (2013), (e) Event 5 (2014), and (f) Event 6 (2015). See Table 1 for associated dates of events. (PNG 22 kb)

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Krzyżewska, A., Dyer, J. Local-scale analysis of temperature patterns over Poland during heatwave events. Theor Appl Climatol 135, 261–277 (2019).

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