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Climate change already affecting Finland

Atmosphere more humid than before, sea levels rising, and extreme weather phenomena increase


Climate change already affecting Finland
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Relentless heat plagued the United States in July this year. Drought destroyed crops in Russia and Ukraine, and lack of rain caused a famine in Somalia.
      North Korea is threatened by a winter of food shortages because of flooding. Rain has encumbered rescue efforts in India, where two million people have had to flee their homes because of flooding.
      There has been heavy rain in Finland as well - more than ever in the 150 years that records have been kept. Fields were submerged by masses of water in Ostrobothnia and people had to be evacuated from their homes. Preceding summers have been exceptionally warm.
     
Weather fluctuations have become familiar events around the world. There has been record heat, record drought, and record amounts of rain.
      Destructive natural disasters have steadily become more common. They portend the future; it is predicted that extreme weather phenomena - heat waves, dry spells, tropical storms - will become more common as climate change sets in.
      Heavy rains, flooding, and heat waves are expected for Finland.
     
Weather varies naturally from one year to another, and individual weather phenomena are not proof of global warming as such.
      However, the trend of change can already be seen.
      On a global scale researchers say that the signs are clear. The average temperature has risen, the amount of sea ice has decreased in the north, Arctic glaciers are melting, the snow cover has decreased, the ocean surface has risen, the water has become warmer, extreme temperatures, both high and low, are more frequent than before.
     
The changes that have happened are in accordance with predictions made by climate scientists. The average temperature of the earth has increased by 0.8 degrees from the beginning of the 20th century.
      There is more water in the seas, as the water level is rising at a rate of three millimetres a year - 30 centimetres in a century. In the Baltic Sea the impact is less because of isostatic uplift.
      The ice is coming from the polar icecaps, which are melting faster than predicted.
     
In Finland, the average temperature has risen at a rate of about one degree in 100 years. The greatest increase in warmth has been in the spring, and snows are melting earlier than before. The snow cover has become thinner, and the period when lakes are covered with ice has become shorter.
      No increase in frequency of heavy rain has been recorded in Finland yet, because natural variation in the weather is considerable. However, there is more atmospheric humidity, which determines the strength of heavy rains.
     
There is also an increase in emissions that spur climate change.
      There was a dip in greenhouse gas emissions in 2009 because of the recession, but emissions are greater than ever before again.
      The carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere has increased by 0.5 per cent in a year. This has been seen as a steady rise at the Pallas research station in Lapland.


Previously in HS International Edition:
  Exceptionally heavy flooding in Ostrobothnia forces many to evacuate homes (8.10.2012)
  Warming climate causes northerly bird species to retreat ever closer to the Arctic Ocean (27.9.2012)
  Espoo schoolchildren go to Italy to perform against climate change (27.3.2012)
  Finnish men unwilling to reduce climate change through personal choices (20.9.2010)
  Rising temperatures could boost populations of harmful insects (12.8.2010)

Helsingin Sanomat


  16.10.2012 - TODAY
 Climate change already affecting Finland

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