Climate extremes for Sweden

Extremes of weather and climate are part of the human experience with nature. Societies have always been vulnerable to e.g. flooding, extreme precipitation, windstorms and heat waves, and sought to adapt in order to avoid extreme impacts on living conditions.  While the mean climate is changing and the transformation can be largely attributed to anthropogenic emissions, climate extremes are changing as well.

Based on existing scientific literature, there is clear evidence that the climate and its extremes are changing in a way that goes beyond our present experience and that exceeds our preparedness, i.e. our adaptation level. 

Before this report, climate extremes and their impacts have been described both from a natural science perspective and from an impact and risk management perspective. Several assessments including coverage of climate extremes exists, some of them have a global scope or provide general information, while a few have a Swedish focus . However, with the rapid advancement of scientific knowledge from numerous climate research projects, and as a consequence of recent episodic climate extreme events, the information in such reports is not up-to-date or not focused to fulfill Swedish stakeholders’ requirements. The Climate Extremes project attempted to close these gaps as far as possible, and to document remaining gaps.

Major climate variables covered in this report are precipitation, floods, droughts, wind and storminess including thunderstorms and tornadoes, hailstorms, ice storms, freezing rain, heat waves and cold spells. Wind storms are many times the ground for different types of extremes, such as heavy winds, precipitation, hale and snow events. Therefore, storm events are treated more detailed than most other extreme conditions in this report. This report is also meant to support informed risk management and development of communication strategies by stakeholders. Questions relevant for stakeholders are:

  • What kind of change in extreme conditions can we expect from global warming?
  • Will certain types of extreme conditions become more frequent?
  • Will extreme events under recent climate conditions become more or less intense?
  • How do changing extreme conditions impact on the stakeholders sector?
  • How does impact and vulnerability translate into best measures for adaptation to and mitigation of climate change?

The synthesis report is expected to:

  • Provide Swedish stakeholders from local to national level with knowledge on climate extremes to facilitate estimation of the impact potentials.
  • Facilitate communication of climate extremes in recent and future climate.
  • Facilitate translation of changing climate extremes to sectoral risk management and resilience analyses, and associated options for climate adaptation and mitigation.
  • Provide examples of helpful best practices for communication of knowledge on climate extremes.
  • Identify knowledge gaps and research needs related to climate extremes to support capability development for adapting to and mitigating climate change impacts with maximum efficacy.

This report is written for a professionally interested audience in public and private societal sectors and in the climate science community, including local to national administration and governance and organizations in economic and financial entities. The report is written in English to allow international usage despite the clear focus on Sweden.