The ACCLIM and ENSEMBLES research projects have produced new information about the impacts of climate change on the Finnish climate and on climate extremes, as well as estimates of the rate of climate change.
Photo: Eija Vallinheimo
To provide for climate change in social and political decision-making, we need information on the past, present and future climate that is as reliable as possible. “Aside from average values, information is needed about variations and extreme weather events and the associated probabilities,” says Research Scientist Kirsti Jylhä of the Finnish Meteorological Institute. She leads the ACCLIM project that will continue until the end of 2010.
The project is also responsible for information service concerning the present and future climate that is needed for the Research Programme on Adaptation to Climate Change (ISTO).
Probabilities considered better than before
“Based on probability distributions, the scenarios produced in these projects describe changes in the climate during the coming decades if greenhouse gas emissions follow certain alternative trends,” says Research Scientist Kimmo Ruosteenoja of the Finnish Meteorological Institute.
To compile the scenarios, Ruosteenoja and Jouni Räisänen, Lecturer at the University of Helsinki, reviewed material produced by some 20 global climate models. For adaptation research, the results can be utilised in many different fields.
“How will changes in thermal growing seasons affect forestry? Will new cultivars be needed in agriculture? How will heavier rains and warmer winters affect floods?” Ruosteenoja asks, listing some examples.
Reducing emissions must start now
The ENSEMBLES project was one of the most extensive European climate research projects. In all, 66 research institutes from 20 European countries participated in this project, carried out in 2004–2009.
According to the project findings, limiting the average global warming to two degrees Celsius requires that net emissions of carbon dioxide be reduced to near zero by the end of this century. Net emissions mean the difference between emissions and the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed from the atmosphere, for instance, by forests.
According to the results of the ACCLIM project, the average temperature in Finland will rise by 2–6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Winters will be 3–9 degrees and summers 1–5 degrees warmer.