Future slippery season shorter but more dangerous due to climate change
Scientists at the Finnish Meteorological Institute simulated the future driving and walking conditions in Finland, Norway and Sweden under a strong climate warming scenario using the road weather model RoadSurf.
Simulations for the mid-century (2041–2060) showed an increase in icy winter road conditions in Northern Finland, Norway and Sweden. The southern parts saw a decrease in icy road conditions. Almost all regions showed less ice and snow on roads and easier driving conditions in autumn and spring. This could make winter road maintenance seasons shorter.
Pedestrian sidewalks showed a decline in slippery conditions during autumn and spring as well. However, fluctuating temperatures around 0ºC in winters caused an increase in the occurrence of water on top of ice layers in winters. This condition is the most dangerous one for pedestrians regarding slip injuries.
The results of the study suggest that the future slip-season might become shorter, but more slippery for many regions in Finland, Norway and Sweden. The results are upper extreme estimates but can serve as a reference to help local decision makers plan mitigation and adaptation measures ahead of time.
The road weather model RoadSurf is developed at the Finnish Meteorological Institute and operationally used for road weather forecasts. The model was for the first time coupled with future climate change scenarios simulated by a regional climate model. Road weather models give a much more detailed view on road conditions and water and snow storages on roads than what is available from climate models.
Road weather is a major concern for the public health and transport sectors. Half of the yearly 27,000 road and 50,000 pedestrian injuries in Finland, Norway, and Sweden can be traced back to slippery road and walkway conditions.
Nadine-Cyra Freistetter, Finnish Meteorological Institute, email@example.com
Freistetter, N.C., Médus, E., Hippi, M., Kangas, M., Dobler, A., Belušić, D., Käyhkö, J., Partanen, A.I. (2022). Climate change impacts on future driving and walking conditions in Finland, Norway and Sweden. Regional Environmental Change 22, 58. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-022-01920-4
The scientific article is openly available in Regional Environmental Change.
The data on simulated driving and walking in 2041–2060 and in 2081–2100 conditions are openly available on Finnish Meteorological Institute research data repository METIS.