Doctoral Dissertation: Estimation of climate change impacts on hydrology and floods in Finland
01.06.2012 / 12:00
M.Sc. Noora Veijalainen: Doctoral dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Aalto University School of Engineering for public examination and debate in lecture hall R1 at R-house (Rakentajanaukio 4 A) on the 1st of June 2012 at 12 noon.
Climate scenarios project increases in air temperature and precipitation in Finland during the 21st century and these will results in changes in hydrology. In this thesis climate change impacts on hydrology and floods in Finland were estimated with hydrological modelling and several climate scenarios. One of the goals was to understand the influence of different processes and catchment characteristics on the hydrological response to climate change in boreal conditions.
The tool of the climate change impact assessment was the conceptual hydrological model WSFS (Watershed Simulation and Forecasting System). The studies employed and compared two methods of transferring the climate change signal from climate models to the WSFS hydrological model (delta change approach and direct bias corrected Regional Climate Model (RCM) data). Direct RCM data was used to simulate transient hydrological scenarios for 1951-2100 and the simulation results were analysed to detect changes in water balance components and trends in discharge series.
The results revealed that seasonal changes in discharges in Finland were the clearest impacts of climate change. Air temperature increase will affect snow accumulation and melt, increase winter discharge and decrease spring snowmelt discharge. The impacts of climate change on floods in Finland by 2070-2099 varied considerably depending on the location, catchment characteristics, timing of the floods and climate scenario. Floods caused by spring snowmelt decreased or remained unchanged, whereas autumn and winter floods caused by precipitation increased especially in large lakes and their outflow rivers. Since estimation of climate change impacts includes uncertainties in every step of the long modelling process, the accumulated uncertainties by the end of the process become large. The large differences between results from different climate scenarios highlight the need to use several climate scenarios in climate change impact studies.
Possibilities to adapt to climate change impacts through changes in lake regulation were also estimated. Changing the management and permits of many of the regulated lakes in Finland will become necessary during the 21st century in response to climate change induced shifts in hydrological regime.