FINADAPT - Assessing the adaptive capacity of the Finnish environment and society under a changing climate

Background and Goals

FINADAPT is a consortium of 11 partner institutions studying adaptation to the potential impacts of climate change in Finland. Based on an assessment of the adaptation research in Finland, carried out by the "Finnish Environment Institute" (SYKE), FINADAPT was started in 2003. This assessment concluded that, although research had been carried out on the effects of climate change for many sectors, relatively little work had been done on adaptation. Since global warming can already be observed, and further temperature rises are inevitable, climate change adaptation measures will become increasingly necessary. For this reason, the project will analyse the adaptive capacity of the Finnish environment and society under a changing climate. The project will help increase the knowledge base required for climate change adaptation and a team of experts has already been successfully built. The studies assessed are based on literature reviews, interactions with stakeholders, seminars, and targeted research.

Research on adaptation to climate change requires a knowledge of diverse sectors and cross-disciplinary cooperation. In 2006, a 5-year climate change adaptation research programme was launched that aims to build on the FINADAPT work, providing new information that is necessary for planning practical adaptation measures.

The key findings are summarized as follows:

1. Finland's climate is changing.

2. Changes in Finland's climate will continue and may accelerate in the future.

3. Mitigation can slow climate change but adaptation will also be needed.

4. Socio-economic and environmental scenarios assuming high and low emissions have been developed for Finland.

5. The impacts of climate change are already being observed.

6. Recent extreme events are consistent with a changing climate.

7. Ecosystem services are estimated to show both adverse and beneficial effects of climate change.

8. Climate change presents risks and benefits for infrastructure and human well being.

9. There are large uncertainties in the potential costs of future climate change impacts and adaptation measures.

10. Autonomous adaptation refers to standard methods of coping with climatic variability, but may be insufficient for coping with climate change.

11. Planned adaptation, through policy decisions, will be essential to cope with increased climate-induced risks and can be cost effective if implemented before major damage occurs.

12. Some management strategies serve both adaptation and mitigation objectives.

13. Risk awareness is vital for adapting to climate change.

14. There are many gaps in knowledge about adaptation to climate change, and research is needed to guide policy makers in selecting the most appropriate strategies for Finland.

Content time

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Research area/region

Country
  • Finland

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

Three scenarios have been adopted to describe future climate developments and other environmental and socio-economic factors

  1. "Global Markets" (corresponds to IPCC emission scenario A1T),
  2. "Sustainability" (corresponds to B1),
  3. "Retrenchment" (corresponds to A2).

From these, the FINSKEN project will develop scenarios for Finland. The regular grid resolution is 10 x 10kms or point estimates, which are interpolated for individual locations.

Mean annual warming of between 2.4 and 7.4°C in combination with increased annual precipitation by 6 to 37% over the next 80 years.

Parameter (climate signals)
  • Altered rainfall patterns
  • Higher average temperatures
Further Parameters 

Climate variables: daily precipitation, daily mean air temperature, daily minimum and maximum air temperature, daily minimum and maximum relative humidity, daily minimum and maximum wind speed, daily global radiation, daily sunshine hours, daily soil temperature in 20 cm depth, daily potential evaporation (April to September), temperature-dependent duration of growing season (start, end, and duration), effective temperature sum (ETS), total precipitation during the growing season

Time horizon
  • short term = next year’s / decades
  • medium term = to 2050
  • long term = to 2100 and beyond
Further times 

Four time frames (climatological average periods: in brackets)

- Present-day (1971-2000)

- Near-term (1991-2020)

- Mid-term (2021-2050)

- Long-term (2071-2100)

Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact

Approach and results 

The climate changes are expected to have significant impacts on different facets of the natural environment and society in Finland, some adverse and some beneficial. Some climate change impacts can already be observed.

Step 2b: Identify and assess risks - Vulnerability, risks and chances

Approach and results 

A report will be provided on vulnerability and adaptive capacity under a changing climate in Finland. The capacity to adapt to future climate change in Finland will be a function of the magnitude and rate of climate change and the vulnerability of the Finnish environment and society. Analysing the capacity of the stakeholders for dealing with and adapting to climatic events is fundamental to characterising current and possible future vulnerability.

The current knowledge on the sensitivity of the Finnish environment and society to climate change is summarized. The irregularity and volatility of the effects of climate change is probably much more significantly negative for the economy than the calculated average economic damage over time. A sequence of negative climate change impacts within a short time span could test the resilience of several sectors or even of the socio-economic system as a whole.

The adaptive capacity of the Finnish environment and society to the potential climate changes and the capacity of dealing with today's climatic conditions will be assessed.

Urgency and priorization of adaptation needs 

Priority areas will be identified that require attention. The urgency of the adaptation measures will be divided into immediate (2005-2010), short-term (2010 to 2030), and long-term (2030 to 2080).

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

The project aims to communicate the need for adaptation and study the adaptive capacity in Finland. The goal of the project is to identify the major gaps in knowledge and illustrate the research requirements in order to be able to develop appropriate adaptation measures in the future.

The result is that research is needed in the following areas, in particular: methodological development of regional models, monitoring and indicator studies, empirical research, field and experimental research, scenario development, forecast modelling, economic costs, integrated assessment, impact of extreme weather events, modification of existing measures, evaluation of adaptation measures and analysis of "no regret" adaptation strategies.

Time horizon
  • 2021–2050 (near future)
  • 2071–2100 (far future)

Participants

Funding / Financing 

Finland: Finnish Environmental Cluster Research Programme

Project management 

Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Research Programme for Global Change, Ministry of the Environment

Cooperation/Partners 

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Traffic and Communications, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Ministry of the Environment, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finnish Meteorological Institute

Contact

Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
Mechelininkatu 34a
FI-00251 Helsinki

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Fields of action:
 agriculture  biological diversity  building sector  energy sector  financial services industry  fishery  human health  tourism industry  transport, transport infrastructure  water regime, water management  woodland and forestry  cross sectoral