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The climate research programme does basic and applied research on the different components of the climate system. The research subjects are especially past, current and future climate as well as the composition of the atmosphere and its effects on climate change and air quality. Some of the employees of the programme work at the office in Kuopio.
The space and earth observation centre is responsible for the research of the polar regions and near space as well as developing technology related to the activity. The research subjects are especially arctic research and remote sensing, new observation methods and space. The Arctic Space Centre and Sodankylä office are a part of the Space and earth observation centre.

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Intensity of catastrophic storms has increased in Europe since 1990

Intensity of catastrophic storms has increased in Europe since 1990

FMI researchers showed that storm-induced forest damage went through a change point in 1990. After 1990 the worst storms have been 3.5 times as catastrophic as before, mainly because of climate change.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) has investigated intense large scale storms based on their impacts on primary forest damage in Europe over the period 1951 - 2010. It was already known that storm-induced primary damage has grown in that period, but it was considered to be mainly due to increase in total growing stock and forest management practices, such as preference for Norway spruce.  However, the FMI researchers found that storm-induced forest damage went through a statistically significant change point in 1990. "After 1990 the worst storms have been 3.5 times as catastrophic as before. This type of change cannot be caused by a change in forest management practices. Instead it is related to a change in storm climate", says Head of Unit Hilppa Gregow from FMI.

More widespread gusts with wind speeds exceeding 42 m/s than before

The study also addressed the storms' gust wind speeds that have been measured since the 1980's. Hilppa Gregow says that in all of the most catastrophic storms, which include Wiebke (1990), Lothar (1999), Martin (1999), Gudrun (2005), Kyrill (2007), and Klaus (2009), the highest gust speeds were between 50 - 60 m/s. It has been recently shown that the stems of all kinds of trees will break when wind speed exceeds 42 m/s, whereas Norway spruce can be uprooted also at lower wind speeds. "Therefore, the change point in forest damage in 1990 may at least partially be due to the strongest storms having more widespread gusts with wind speeds exceeding 42 m/s", says Hilppa Gregow.

The FMI study also found that the worsening of the catastrophic storms is a wintertime (December-February) phenomenon, whereas the intensity of the strongest autumn storms has decreased since 1990. Hilppa Gregow says that although the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO) correlates with storminess in general, the researches were not able to relate the 1990 change point to changes in NAO. Climate change, on the other hand, could have an impact on the storms. For example, recent studies have found simultaneous changes in the Arctic ocean summertime ice cover, and North Atlantic wind climate.

More information:

Head of Group Hilppa Gregow, tel. +358 29 539 3510,

Science news archive

Contact information

Scientific Director Ari Laaksonen
tel. +358 539 5530

Meteorological and Marine Research Programme
Director Sami Niemelä
tel. +358 29 539 4172

Climate Research Programme
Director  Hannele Korhonen
tel. +358  29 539 2135

Space and Earth Observation Centre
Director Jouni Pulliainen
tel. +358 29 539 4701

Science News
Communications Specialist Eija Vallinheimo
tel. +358 29 539 2231

FMI publications

FMI´s own publications series are:

  • FMI Contributions: high-quality peer-reviewed research results, mainly doctoral dissertations
  • FMI Reports: current research results mainly for customers and other stakeholders

All publications from 2016 onwards can be found on Helda.