Forest fire warnings in Nordic and Baltic countries

Friday, June 16, 2023


Northern Europe, including the Nordic and Baltic countries, is facing an increased risk of forest fires this summer due to a lack of rain and rising temperatures.

Normally characterized by cool and wet summers, these regions are unaccustomed to dealing with drought and wildfire situations. Dry conditions have already led to small wildfires in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, sparking concerns of a repeat of the devastating wildfires that swept across Sweden in 2018. Experts warn that the situation could worsen unless there is significant rainfall in the coming weeks.

The Swedish weather agency SMHI states that southern Sweden has received very little rain in May and June, leaving the soil exceptionally dry.

The risk of wildfires is now considered “extremely high” in the southern half of the country, including the Stockholm region. Similar warnings have been issued in neighboring Finland, Norway, Denmark, and the Baltic countries. Campfire bans are in effect in many areas.

Experts suggest that the drought in northern Europe could be linked to the transition from La Niña to El Niño climatic conditions in the Pacific, which affects weather patterns globally and often leads to dry summers in this part of Europe.

 While it is too early to establish a direct link to climate change, a warming climate in general is making the Nordic region more vulnerable to forest fires by extending the vegetative season and reducing the time for precipitation to penetrate the ground.

As temperatures rise and the heat-wave persists, Finland is expected to experience temperatures of up to 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), which is rare for a country situated above the Arctic Circle. Authorities stress the need for significant rainfall in the coming weeks to prevent the situation from escalating further. The drought has already had a significant impact on agriculture, prompting Denmark’s farming minister to plan measures to support farmers in the face of a summer without rain.

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