The Finnish Meteorological Institute has provided weather services important to the safety and functioning of society for 175 years.
Finland’s climate is exceptionally challenging for the various functions of society, especially transport. The demand for new and increasingly sophisticated weather services keeps rising as society becomes more sensitive to the impacts of weather. “The Institute’s activities are centred on our customers’ needs,” said Director General Petteri Taalas. “We are an international forerunner in our sector. We are well prepared for this, thanks to our solid expertise, our highly advanced 24/7 production system, and the first-rate atmospheric and marine research conducted at the Institute.”
Merja Kyllönen, Minister of Transport and Communications, emphasised the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s role as a safety authority. “High trust is placed in the Institute and society uses the Institute’s services widely in planning daily activities, in providing for emergencies and in preparing for global climate change,” Minister Kyllönen pointed out.
David Grimes, President of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) remarked that the research carried out by the Finnish Meteorological Institute has led to a much greater understanding of the complexities of the Earth system and its interactions with weather and climate. “The Finnish Meteorological Institute has proved itself to be a valued partner with WMO and a generous contributor to the global community,” Grimes commended. “The Institute is certainly one of the most advanced meteorological services in the world.”
Throughout the years, the research conducted at the Institute has met society’s new challenges. “At present, we are seeking answers to questions such as how climate change affects the various sectors of society, what kinds of threats and opportunities the changes will create; and what types of needs society will face,” Petteri Taalas explained. “The Arctic region and the changes occurring there are one of the priorities of our research and service development. The impacts of climate change here in the north are mostly positive, but when climate change is examined on a global scale, the negative effects are reflected in the northern regions as well.”
The impacts of climate change are also analysed in the book “The New North – the World in 2050”, by Laurence C. Smith, Professor of Earth & Space Sciences at University of California, Los Angeles. In his work, Smith presents a projection of what the world might look like within a few decades, should current global trends in population demographics, resource demand, economic globalisation, and climate change continue their current trajectories. Smith predicts that the “Northern Rim countries”, comprising Canada, the northern United States, Greenland/Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, will experience profound transformation because of the above four trends. It will be a region of increasing global strategic value. “The world that we leave to our children and grandchildren will be wholly different from the world we know today,” Smith summarised his message.
The Finnish Meteorological Institute works actively with several international organisations, such as research institutions, national meteorological services, and cooperation organisations. John Hirst, Chief Executive of the Met Office in the UK, leads one of Europe’s foremost meteorological services. Hirst also considers it vital to society that decision-makers receive increasingly accurate and longer-term information about weather and climate conditions.“For instance, it must be possible to forecast dangerous weather events earlier than before,” Hirst said. “In addition, as climate change is progressing, reliable forecasts extending over longer periods are needed.”
Director General Petteri Taalas of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, WMO President David Grimes, Minister of Transport and Communications Merja Kyllönen, Professor Laurence C. Smith and Chief Executive John Hirst of the UK Met Office spoke at the 175th anniversary celebration of the Finnish Meteorological Institute. This year marks the 175th anniversary of the launch of the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s operations. The Institute’s earliest predecessor, the Magneto-Meteorological Observatory of the University of Helsinki, was established by a decision signed by Tsar Nicholas I on 28 March 1838. Even then, the Institute’s scientific pursuits were ambitious and its observations and services met the highest standards of the time. From this beginning, the Finnish Meteorological Institute has continued these traditions ever since.
Eija Vallinheimo, Information Officer, Finnish Meteorological Institute, tel. 029 539 2231