Severe Drought in Finland: Modeling Effects on Water Resources and Assessing Climate Change Impacts

Noora Veijalainen, Lauri Ahopelto, Mika Marttunen, Jaakko Jääskeläinen, Ritva Britschgi, Mirjam Orvomaa, Antti Belinskij, Marko Keskinen

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Severe droughts cause substantial damage to different socio-economic sectors, and even Finland, which has abundant water resources, is not immune to their impacts. To assess the implications of a severe drought in Finland, we carried out a national scale drought impact analysis. Firstly, we simulated water levels and discharges during the severe drought of 1939–1942 (the reference drought) in present-day Finland with a hydrological model. Secondly, we estimated how climate change would alter droughts. Thirdly, we assessed the impact of drought on key water use sectors, with a focus on hydropower and water supply. The results indicate that the long-lasting reference drought caused the discharges to decrease at most by 80% compared to the average annual minimum discharges. The water levels generally fell to the lowest levels in the largest lakes in Central and South-Eastern Finland. Climate change scenarios project on average a small decrease in the lowest water levels during droughts. Severe drought would have a significant impact on water-related sectors, reducing water supply and hydropower production. In this way drought is a risk multiplier for the water–energy–food security nexus. We suggest that the resilience to droughts could be improved with region-specific drought management plans and by including droughts in existing regional preparedness exercises.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2450
Number of pages26
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Climate change
  • Drought
  • Finland
  • Groundwater
  • Hydrological modeling
  • Preparedness
  • Water security
  • Water-energy-food security nexus
  • water-energy-food security nexus
  • water security
  • groundwater
  • hydrological modeling
  • preparedness
  • drought
  • climate change

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  • Projects

    From Failand to Winland

    Varis, O., Niva, V., Sojamo, S., Keskinen, M., Jalava, M., Lehikoinen, E. & Porkka, M.


    Project: Academy of Finland: Strategic research funding

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