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Ambio. 2004 Jun;33(4-5):235-41.

Climate change effects on river flow to the Baltic Sea.

Author information

  • Rossby Centre, SMHI, Norrk√∂ping, Sweden. phil.graham@smhi.se


River flow to the Baltic Sea originates under a range of different climate regimes in a drainage basin covering some 1,600,000 km2. Changes to the climate in the Baltic Basin will not only affect the total amount of freshwater flowing into the sea, but also the distribution of the origin of these flows. Using hydrological modeling, the effects of future climate change on river runoff to the Baltic Sea have been analyzed. Four different climate change scenarios from the Swedish Regional Climate Modelling Programme (SWECLIM) were used. The resulting change to total mean annual river flow to the Baltic Sea ranges from -2% to +15% of present-day flow according to the different climate scenarios. The magnitude of changes within different subregions of the basin varies considerably, with the most severe mean annual changes ranging from -30% to +40%. However, common to all of the scenarios evaluated is a general trend of reduced river flow from the south of the Baltic Basin together with increased river flow from the north.

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