Projected climate change in Finland


Due to climate change, the temperatures in Finland will rise, precipitation will increase, snow cover season will become shorter, and the amount of soil frost will decrease. Also, the sea level in the Baltic Sea will rise and the winter ice cover will reduce. Projections indicate that Finland’s climate would change more in winter than in summer.

Finland's climate will change more in winter than in summer

In future, the average temperature in Finland will rise more [1] and faster than the global average [2]. In addition to warming, precipitation is estimated to increase. The changes will affect winters more than summers [3], [4]. The following changes are expected to occur in Finland’s climate:

Temperature will rise

  • The winter temperatures in particular will rise [2].
  • Warming will be fastest in Northern Finland [3].
  • Very low temperatures seem to become rarer.
  • Heat wave periods will probably become more common and last longer.
  • The highest temperatures will probably rise. [4], [5]
  • The growing season will become longer and warmer [2].

Precipitation will increase

  • Particularly in the winter half of the year, precipitation will increase [3], [1] and it will more often fall down as rain rather than as snow [4].
  • Heavy rain events are assumed to become more intense, and the change than average rainfall.
  • The longest dry periods in winter and spring will become somewhat shorter [4].

Storm winds will change

  • Average wind conditions are not expected to change much [6], [1].
  • Storm winds are expected to increase over Finnish sea areas and the coastline. According to RCP4.5 scenario storm winds will increase most probably near the southern and western coastline since storm winds are projected to increase over Gulf of Finland, Baltic Sea and Sea of Bothnia. According RCP8.5 scenario storm winds may increase over all Finnish sea areas and also southern and central part of the country reaching southern Lapland. [7], [8]
  • Climate change projection gain more support from the most recent research about past storms in Europe. The catastrophic storms when investigated over the period of 1951–2010 have changed remarkably since 1990 which represents a change point in the storm series. Nearly all of the most catastrophic storms have occurred after year 1990 in an area that covers Western, Central and Northern Europe. [9]

Snow cover and soil frost will reduce

  • The snow cover period will become shorter.
  • The water equivalent of snow and snow depth will decrease.
  • The amount of soil frost will reduce. [4], [5]
  • During mild and rainy winters, the ground will often be wet and its carrying capacity reduced [10].

Cloud cover will increase and sunshine will decrease

  • Winters will become cloudier and there will be less sunshine [1].
  • In summer cloud cover is likely to remain largely unchanged or sunshine to become slightly more common. [1], [3], [4], [5]

Sea level in the Baltic Sea will rise and the winter ice cover will reduce

  • Water level in the Gulf of Finland may begin to rise and in the Gulf of Bothnia the sea will recede slower than before [11], [12].
  • Winter ice cover in the Baltic Sea will reduce and become thinner [11], [13].

Finland's future climate has been assessed on the basis of several climate models

The most recent projections on Finland’s future climate are based on climate simulations performed with 28 global climate models. Results are presented for several greenhouse gas scenarios. [1], [3] The intensity of the changes in the Finland’s climate and which scenario will occur, depends on the amount of the global greenhouse gas emissions.

The most recent greenhouse gas scenarios are called RCP-scenarios (representative concentration pathways):

  • RCP8.5-scenario: greenhouse gas emissions keep growing rapidly in the future.
  • RCP6.0-scenario: at first, emissions will stay approximately at the current level but will be quite high later in this century.
  • RPC4.5-scenario: at first, emissions will grow slightly but start to decline around the year 2040.
  • RPC2.6-scenario: emissions will decline steeply soon after the year 2020 and reach zero level by the end of the century. [3], [14], [15]

Climate change projections provide an estimate on how much temperature, precipitation, or other climate variables will change in comparison with the reference period i.e. the average for 1981–2000. Projections extend to around the year 2100. [1], [3] The new model results and scenarios indicate that Finland’s summers will get warmer than previously estimated, but projections for precipitation have not changed much [3].