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Climate Change and Energy Systems

Impacts, Risks and Adaptation in the Nordic and Baltic countries

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Renewable energy sources contribute 16% of the global energy consumption and most nations are working to increase the share of renewables in their total energy budget, to reduce the dependence on fossil fuel sources. Most Nordic and Baltic countries have already surpassed the target set for EU countries by 2020, to produce 20% of energy use from renewables like hydropower, solar energy, wind power, bio-energy, ocean power and geothermal energy. This publication presents results from a comprehensive research project that investigated the effects of projected future climate change on hydropower, wind power and bioenergy in the Nordic and Baltic countries, with focus on the period 2020-2050. The research group investigated historical climate, runoff and forest growth data and produced climate scenarios for the region based on global circulation models. The scenarios were used as input in models forecasting changes in glacial meltwater production, basin-wide runoff, mean wind strength, extreme storm and flooding events and energy biomass production. Although the uncertainty in modelling results translates into increased risks for decision-making within the energy sector, the projected climate change is predicted to have a largely positive impact on energy production levels in the region, and energy systems modelling projects increased export of energy to continental Europe by 2020.

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Climate scenarios

Climate scenarios from climate models lay the foundation for climate impact studies. In relatively small areas, like the Nordic and Baltic region, coarse-resolution global climate models (GCMs) fail to resolve important aspects of the regional climate. Downscaling techniques, including dynamical and statistical downscaling, can be used to arrive at a higher horizontal resolution. Here, in section 3.2, we present a number of climate scenarios for the Nordic and Baltic region produced by regional climate models (RCMs) run within the CES project in a joint effort with the European FP6-project ENSEMBLES (van der Linden and Mitchell, 2009). The large number of RCM-simulations generated in these two projects, forced by a range of GCMs, is unprecedented. However, even if the ensemble of RCM simulations is relatively large, it still covers only a part of the total uncertainty related to future climate change. Therefore, in section 3.3, we put the RCM scenarios in a wider context by comparing them to the output of a large number of GCM simulations. In particular, it is described how the regional scale information from the CES/ENSEMBLES RCMs can be added to the probabilistic climate change projections from the larger ensemble of GCMs. The RCM simulations described in section 3.2 and used in section 3.3 are undertaken at 25 km horizontal resolution. Even if this is state-of-the-art for today’s large RCM ensembles, it may still not be sufficient for detailed impact studies at local scales. In section 3.4, we present two examples of further increasing the horizontal resolution: (1) by dynamical downscaling to 3 km in a few smaller areas in the Nordic domain, and (2) by statistical downscaling to 1 km horizontal resolution for Norway. In addition to the work reported on in sections 3.2–3.4 a number of other studies have been undertaken in the Climate Scenario group, these are briefly described in section 3.5 before concluding remarks are given in section 3.6.

English

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