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Inside Sweden For Members

Inside Sweden: What might Sweden's future weather look like?

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
Inside Sweden: What might Sweden's future weather look like?
Storm Hans flooded one of Gothenburg's harbours. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Sweden may have avoided the heatwave that plagued much of Europe earlier this summer, but the past week certainly gave us a taste of extreme weather, including rain, wind and severe flooding, writes The Local's editor.

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Some weather records had been broken even before this week’s rainfall. Delsbo/Bjuråker in Hälsingland, central Sweden, has seen 338.6 millimetres of rain so far this summer, with 84.2 millimetres falling on July 1st alone, according to Sweden’s meteorological office SMHI.

SMHI predicts that local rain records could conceivably also be broken in Hälsingland’s Kölsillre as well as Falköping-Valtorp in Västergötland and the city of Västerås before the summer is over.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, Ullared on the west coast got the most rain: 83.6 millimetres.

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At Kållered south of Gothenburg, where the E6 motorway had to shut completely after flooding, 76.1 millimetres of rain fell – two centimetres more than its previous record (although note that SMHI’s weather station at Kållered was only set up in 1994, so it doesn’t tell us much).

The downpour led to flooding in several parts of Sweden, causing rivers to burst their banks and trains to grind to a halt, including one that derailed near Hudiksvall after a railway embankment collapsed.

In Gothenburg, newspapers rejoiced in reporting that “poo water” (bajsvatten – one of Swedish newspapers’ many favourite headline words) was flowing through the Göta Älv river after the city’s sewage system couldn’t cope with the flooding.

Sweden is lucky in that extreme weather is rarely as extreme as in many other countries, but it’s on the increase here too. Global warming and climate change affect countries differently, and in Sweden extreme rainfalls are expected to increase in the future.

Sweden’s annual rainfall has already increased from 600 millimetres to 700 millimetres since 1930. By 2100, it may have increased another 20-40 percent, according to SMHI’s estimates.

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It’s actually less strange than it sounds that global warming causes both heatwaves and rainfall. Warm air is able to hold more water molecules than cool air, so the warmer the atmosphere gets, the more concentrated the water vapour in the atmosphere gets, and it eventually comes down as rain.

Storm Hans, for example, is believed to have been caused by high sea surface temperatures. The warm water in areas affected by this summer’s heatwave evaporated and came down as rain in Scandinavia. It’s how the weather is supposed to work, but taken to extremes by global warming. Think of it as a wheel that’s spinning (as it's supposed to), but faster and faster and eventually out of control.

Swedish cities are now rethinking their infrastructure to be able to cope with sudden rainfall in the future. I read an article by Swedish news agency TT this week which reported that Malmö had, among other things, lowered parts of Söderkullaparken, a park in the south of the city. The idea is that the park will then retain rain water, preventing it from flooding other parts of Malmö.

In Stockholm, similar plans are in place for Rålambshovsparken and Humlegården.

How are your countries coping with floods, heatwaves and climate change?

In other news

Sweden’s in the World Cup semi-final, heja! Here’s how to watch it in Sweden.

We compared how much things cost in Sweden at the moment compared to a year ago, and it’s grim, with the exception of energy costs which are likely to be lower this winter than last year.

Sweden’s National Institute of Economic Research believes GDP will fall 0.9 percent this year, but start climbing again next year. Brace for another probable interest rate hike next month, however.

There are arguably as many Swedish dialects as there are Swedes, but what are the general rules for how to tell where in Sweden someone comes from based off their speech? Here’s Becky’s guide to a few easy tricks. So if you’ve got that Swedish friend who constantly asks you if you can “tell that so-and-so comes from a different part of Sweden than so-and-so”, now you can tell them yes.

Spotify this week pulled out of negotiations with unions over striking a collective bargaining agreement, arguing that it can provide better perks for its employees without such a deal. If you work for Spotify and want to tell me whether or not you think that’s true – please feel free to drop me an email at [email protected] (you can be anonymous).

Inside Sweden is our weekly newsletter for members that gives you news, analysis and, sometimes, takes you behind the scenes at The Local. It’s published each Saturday and members can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to your newsletter preferences.

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