• urbanization;
  • imperviousness;
  • snow melt;
  • runoff coefficient;
  • seasonality


The impacts of land use intensity, here defined as the degree of imperviousness, on stormwater volumes, runoff rates and their temporal occurrence were studied at three urban catchments in a cold region in southern Finland. The catchments with ‘High’ and ‘Intermediate’ land use intensity, located around the city centre, were characterized by 89% and 62% impervious surfaces, respectively. The ‘Low’ catchment was situated in a residential area of 19% imperviousness. During a 2-year study period with divergent weather conditions, the generation of stormwater correlated positively with catchment imperviousness: The largest annual stormwater volumes and the highest runoff coefficients and number of stormwater runoff events occurred in the High catchment. Land use intensity also altered the seasonality of stormwater runoff: Most stormwater in the High catchment was generated during the warm period of the year, whereas the largest contribution to annual stormwater generation in the Low catchment took place during the cold period. In the two most urbanized catchments, spring snow melt occurred a few weeks earlier than in the Low catchment. The rate of stormwater runoff in the High and Intermediate catchments was higher in summer than during spring snow melt, and summer runoff rates in these more urbanized catchments were several times higher than in the Low catchment. Our study suggests that the effects of land use intensity on stormwater runoff are season dependent in cold climates and that cold seasons diminish the differences between land use intensities. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.