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Transport, Infrastructure and Building Finland

Vulnerabilities – Dams and Reservoirs

Activities are underway to improve dam safety (e.g. via spillway dimensioning) and to re-design major dam discharges. Structural defences are upgraded, the height and strength of levees are increased, and reservoirs are enlarged (1).

Vulnerabilities – Transport – Shipping

The ice season is expected to shorten considerably in the Baltic. Along the south-western coasts, the freezing might become delayed by 1½ months and the disappearance of ice by one month during this century. In the Gulf of Bothnia, the maximum ice thickness may decrease by 20–30 cm.

For winter traffic, these changes are not necessarily always favourable. The heaviest storms often occur in winter months; if the sea is open, waves may be very high. If there is ice, storms create thick ice belts and high ridges on shipping lanes and harbour mouths. Potentially increasing formation of pack-ice and thick sludge belts will impair marine traffic (2). Potential increases in storms may also impose new requirements on harbour and airport structures (3).

The advantage of climate change will besavings in navigation and harbour maintenance costsdue to a shortening of the ice covered period (2).

Vulnerabilities – Transport – Road

The risk of collapse of roads will increase (2,3). Floods and heavy rains will damage the structures of road networks maintenance problems could be expected particularly on gravel roads. The functionality of drainage arrangements based on today’s dimensioning will be endangered: bridge and culvert structures are dimensioned to convey present runoffs.

Difficult weather conditions will increase in all forms of traffic (road, rail, sea, air). The rectification of and preparation for functional disturbances will impose additional costs. The need for antiskid treatment will increase all over the country; for example, the need to apply de-icing salt to roads will extend to the north.

The advantage of climate change will besavings in winter maintenance to the road and rail network and at airports due to thinning of the snow cover and shortening of the snowy-winter (2).

Traffic accidents involving personal injury or death due to slippery conditions account for up to 50% of the over 27,000 injuries in recent years in Finland, Norway and Sweden, and result in annual medical costs and economic production losses up to €16.2 billion yearly (9). Also, pedestrian slip injuries are a major contributor to social costs. The climate change impacts on driving and walking conditions in Finland, Norway and Sweden have been assessed for a worst-case climate change scenario (RCP 8.5) for 2050. According to this assessment, snowy and icy road surface conditions strongly decrease during the cold season. In autumn and spring, the number of zero-degree-crossing days decrease, and sidewalks show a decrease in slipperiness. In winter, this number increases, and sidewalks become more slippery (8).

Vulnerabilities – Transport – Rail

The risk of collapse of railway beds will increase. Floods and heavy rains will damage the structures of rail networks. Problems may be caused to railway safety equipment. Difficult weather conditions will increase in all forms of traffic (road, rail, sea, air) (2).

Vulnerabilities – Infrastructure – Telecommunications

Windiness, storms and heavy rain will cause damage to overhead cable networks and breaks in underground cables (2).

Vulnerabilities - Buildings

The changing climate has the potential regionally to increase premature deterioration and weathering impacts on the built environment, exacerbating vulnerabilities to climate extremes and disasters and negatively impacting the expected and useful life spans of structures (4).  

Vulnerabilities - Infrastructure

Small increases in climate extremes above thresholds or regional infrastructure ‘tipping points’ have the potential to result in large increases in damages to all forms of existing infrastructure nationally and to increase disaster risks (5). Since infrastructure systems, such as buildings, water supply, flood control, and transportation networks often function as a whole or not at all, an extreme event that exceeds an infrastructure design or ‘tipping point’ can sometimes result in widespread failure and a potential disaster (6).

Vulnerabilities – Damages due to permafrost thawing

The thawing of the permafrost in the Arctic is causing damage to the infrastructure and buildings of the Arctic states. According to model projections, the costs of this damage will be $182 billion for all Arctic states combined by mid-century, under a moderate scenario of climate change. Under a high-end scenario of climate change the costs may rise to $276 billion by mid-century. Russia is expected to have the highest burden of costs, ranging from $115 to $169 billion depending on the scenario. For Scandinavia and Iceland, the estimated costs are $36.4 billion (moderate scenario) to $53.9 billion (high-end), while the range for North America is $30.4 - $53.1 billion. These are the mean values for the estimates; the uncertainty range of these costs is tens of percent (10).

In these model projections mid-century is defined as the period 2055–2064, and the damage is compared to the reference period 2015–2024. The results show that under the moderate scenario of climate change 29% of roads, 23% of railroads, and 11% of buildings will be affected by permafrost degradation. Under the high-end scenario, these numbers are 44% of roads, 34% of railroads, and 17% of buildings.

Adaptation strategies – Building

Today’s building code might need adjustments if extreme wind velocities increase. The changes in wind climate may also increase the frequency of inclined rains, thus creating a need to restructure e.g. the openings of air intake systems. Despite milder winters, the snow loads may increase in eastern and northern Finland, which should be taken into account in the building code. Reinforcements may be required in existing buildings – there have already been a number of collapses of buildings due to snow loads in recent years. In land use planning, the areas vulnerable to floods or high sea levels should be mapped and building on those areas avoided (2).

The Helsinki Metropolitan Area’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (7) is a regional approach focusing on the built environment in the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen, and their surroundings. It includes approaches for dealing with increasing heat waves, more droughts, milder winters, increasing (winter) precipitation, heavy rainfall events, river floods, storm surges, drainage water floods and sea level rise.


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Finland.

  1. Kundzewicz (2009)
  2. Ministry of the Environment of Finland (2006)
  3. Marttila et al.(2005)
  4. Auld (2008b); Larsen et al. (2008); Stewart et al. (2011), all in: IPCC (2012)
  5. Coleman (2002); Munich Re (2005); Auld (2008b); Larsen et al. (2008); Kwadijk et al. (2010); Mastrandrea et al. (2010), all in: IPCC (2012)
  6. Ruth and Coelho (2007); Haasnoot et al. (2009), both in: IPCC (2012)
  7. HSY (2010), in: IPCC (2014)
  8. Freistetter et al. (2022)
  9. Several sources in: Freistetter et al. (2022)
  10. Streletskiy et al. (2023)