Can There be Water Scarcity with Abundance of Water? Analyzing Water Stress during a Severe Drought in Finland

Lauri Ahopelto*, Noora Veijalainen, Joseph H. A. Guillaume, Marko Keskinen, Mika Marttunen, Olli Varis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
138 Downloads (Pure)


Severe droughts can affect water security even in countries with ample water resources. In addition, droughts are estimated to become more frequent in several regions due to changing climate. Drought affects many socio-economic sectors (e.g., agriculture, water supply, and industry), as it did in 2018 in Finland. Understanding the basin-wide picture is crucial in drought management planning. To identify vulnerable and water stressed areas in Finland, a water use-to-availability analysis was executed with a reference drought. Water stress was analyzed with the Water Depletion Index WDI. The analysis was executed using national water permits and databases. To represent a severe but realistic drought event, we modelled discharges and runoffs from the worst drought of the last century in Finland (1939-1942). The potential for performing similar analyses in data scarce contexts was also tested using estimates from global models as a screening tool. The results show that the South and Southwest of Finland would have problems with water availability during a severe drought. The most vulnerable areas would benefit from drought mitigation measures and management plans. These measures could be incorporated into the EU River Basin Management Plans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1548
Number of pages18
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • water depletion index
  • global water models
  • consumptive water use
  • water stress
  • water security
  • water scarcity
  • Finland

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