Public defence in Water and Environmental Engineering, M.Sc. (Tech) Lauri Ahopelto

Climate change increases drought-related risks also in Finland. Risk management should be developed in a proactive and comprehensive manner.

Public defence from the School of Engineering, Department of Built Environment
Painting of a dry landscape with dried up trees.

Title of the thesis: Drought in Water Abundant Finland - Data and Tools for Drought Management

Doctoral student: Lauri Ahopelto
Opponent: Prof. Mark Svoboda, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA
Custos: Associate Professor Marko Keskinen, Aalto University, School of Engineering, Department of Built Environment

Drought is globally one of the most destructive natural hazards. Although Finland has abundant water resources, it is not immune to the effects of drought. However, drought risk management has not been extensively studied in Finland. 

This doctoral research investigates the risk components associated with drought in Finland now and in the future and proposes ways to develop drought risk management. The study also examines what kind of information and methods are required for drought risk analysis. 

Drought is a multifaceted phenomenon and therefore systematic approaches are needed for its management. In the doctoral research, one such approach is water security, which provides a comprehensive concept and approach for water resource management. Water security emphasizes the importance of water both as a creator of well-being and livelihoods and as a producer of various risks. At the same time, it naturally links to food security and energy security.

The study provides new information on risks and vulnerabilities related to drought. Comprehensive assessment of drought risk requires multiple sources of datasets, indices, and methods. High-quality observations and long datasets are essential, but often they are not available. 

The results help understand drought risks in Finland and show that the southern and southwestern parts of Finland are the most vulnerable areas. The results also show that climate change is likely to increase the frequency and severity of drought events in a large part of Finland. However, the results have uncertainties, which could be reduced by using multiple climate change scenarios and models. Despite these uncertainties, adaptation measures to climate change are necessary, especially in those sectors that suffer the most from the impacts: agriculture is one such sector. 

To improve the management of drought risks in Finland, several measures are needed. The key measures recommended are the preparation of voluntary local drought risk management plans and a national drought strategy, supported by drought early warning systems and a drought impacts database. Such measures help reduce drought risks and strengthen resilience against future drought events. At the same time, the measures support the long-term sustainability of sectors affected by drought.

Key words: water resources management, water governance, climate adaptation, drought indices, drought management, Finland

Thesis available for public display 10 days prior to the defence at:

Contact information: [email protected]

Doctoral theses in the School of Engineering:

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