Natural hazards and extreme events in the Baltic Sea region

Anna Rutgersson, Erik Kjellström, Jari Haapala, Martin Stendel, Irina Danilovich, Martin Drews, Kirsti Jylhä, Pentti Kujala, Xiaoli Guo Larsén, Kirsten Halsnæs, Ilari Lehtonen, Anna Luomaranta (+5 others)
2022 Earth System Dynamics  
Abstract. A natural hazard is a naturally occurring extreme event that has a negative effect on people and society or the environment. Natural hazards may have severe implications for human life and can potentially generate economic losses and damage ecosystems. A better understanding of their major causes, probability of occurrence, and consequences enables society to be better prepared to save human lives as well as to invest in adaptation options. Natural hazards related to climate change
more » ... identified as one of the Grand Challenges in the Baltic Sea region. Here, we summarize existing knowledge about extreme events in the Baltic Sea region with a focus on the past 200 years as well as on future climate scenarios. The events considered here are the major hydro-meteorological events in the region and include wind storms, extreme waves, high and low sea levels, ice ridging, heavy precipitation, sea-effect snowfall, river floods, heat waves, ice seasons, and drought. We also address some ecological extremes and the implications of extreme events for society (phytoplankton blooms, forest fires, coastal flooding, offshore infrastructure, and shipping). Significant knowledge gaps are identified, including the response of large-scale atmospheric circulation to climate change and also concerning specific events, for example, the occurrence of marine heat waves and small-scale variability in precipitation. Suggestions for future research include the further development of high-resolution Earth system models and the potential use of methodologies for data analysis (statistical methods and machine learning). With respect to the expected impacts of climate change, changes are expected for sea level, extreme precipitation, heat waves and phytoplankton blooms (increase), and cold spells and severe ice winters (decrease). For some extremes (drying, river flooding, and extreme waves), the change depends on the area and time period studied.
doi:10.5194/esd-13-251-2022 fatcat:vsmvzj3rijdc7a2f3n3nbyjasa