LEGMC develops future climate change scenarios for Latvia

Publicēts: 15.11.2016

As part of the ‘Development of Proposal for National Adaptation Strategy, Including Identification of Scientific Data, Measures for Adapting to Changing Climate, Impact and Cost Evaluation’ project (hereafter called ‘Project’) within the ‘National Climate Policy’ (2009-2014) programme of the European Economic Union’s financial instrument, Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre (hereafter called ‘LEGMC’) performs detailed analysis of historical weather data as well as develops future climate change scenarios for Latvia.

Climate is one of the determinative environment-influencing factors that affects all economic sectors. It is important to not only consider current climate change tendencies, but also model them and their dynamics in the future by using scientifically based methodology. During the project, LEGMC analyzed change dynamics of chosen climate parameters (air temperature, precipitation, wind speed) within two future climate change scenarios that would correspond to the projected values of either average or high amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.

From the forecasts of future climate change scenarios it can be seen that for the RCP 4.5 scenario, annual average air temperature in Latvia will be higher by 3-4°C (or by 5-6°C for the RCP 8.5 scenario) than the annual average value for 1961-1990 (Figure 1). The two scenarios also project rise in both minimum and maximum air temperatures.

Both climate change scenarios also predict a rise in total amount of precipitation throughout Latvia. Until the end of the century, RCP 4.5 projects an increase in total annual precipitation of around 13%, while RCP 8.5 – around 16% increase when compared to the total annual precipitation values from 1961-1990. After looking at the forecasted variability in total amount of precipitation seasonally and spatially for moderate climate conditions, the most significant change in total amount of precipitation is expected during winter (34-37% increase) and spring (12-25% increase) seasons. Spatially, the most substantial increase is projected in the central parts of Vidzeme and Kurzeme (Figure 2).

To describe the climate change dynamics and better identify potential risks and consequences to economic sectors because of them, LEGMC will model future changes in various climate indicators and indices. Changes in these indicators and indices will aid in prognosticating the frequency of extreme weather events, their intensity and spatial distribution. They are also essential in planning and managing adaptation procedures in economic sectors affected by climate change.