Switzerland Switzerland Switzerland Switzerland

Previously in ClimateChangePost


What would be considered a snow-sparse winter of today’s climate is projected to become quite average or even snow abundant in the future. Less snow not only affects winter tourism.

Glacier retreat causes landslides and catastrophic rock falls. In particular the breakout of landslide dams poses significant risks to surrounding settlements and critical infrastructure.

Snow cover duration and maximum snow depth have been declining in the Swiss Alps since 1970. Most likely due to higher temperatures at all elevations in the Swiss Alps, especially during spring.

Melt water of shrinking glaciers forms new lakes by filling up depressions in the landscape. New opportunities arise for hydropower, tourism, and freshwater supply. But new risks arise as well.

Water quality of lakes is affected by shrinking glaciers. How? Through changes in river flows that change oxygen transport to lakes as well.

In contrast to global climate model projections the intensity of summer rainfall may increase. This is important for fresh water supply and, for instance, with respect to flash floods.

Melting glaciers and thawing of permafrost have caused stream discharge to almost double in Alpine watersheds through the last five decades. A frequent outcome of rapid climate warming.

There is increasing evidence that warming trends have advanced wine grape harvest dates in recent decades. Across the globe, harvest dates advance approximately 6 days per degree of warming.

For the Alps, the main trigger of debris flows is high intensity, short duration rainfall. Under future climate change, it is likely that increases in extreme rainfall will alter debris flow frequency

The impact of climate change between now and 2100 on timber production and protection against landslides and avalanche release, has been evaluated for the Province of Vorarlberg in Austria

Global warming affects precipitation volumes in the Alps, the contribution of rain and snow to these volumes, and the timing of snowmelt. An overall decrease in snow cover

The estimated impacts of climate change on maize yields are subject to large uncertainties. This was shown for a case study in Switzerland.

Climate change is considered a large threat to especially montane species. These species often inhabit narrow elevational ranges

Studies based on small mountainous glacierized basins overestimate the impact of climate change on downstream water flow.

There is growing evidence that the rate of warming is amplified with elevation, such that high-mountain environments experience more rapid changes in temperature

Climate suitability for grain maize and winter wheat has remained fairly stable in Switzerland over the last decades with only weak trends

Windstorms have accounted for approximately 1/3 of the total losses relating to buildings from natural hazards in Switzerland since 1950.

Warming is stronger in the Alps than in the Swiss lowlands: about 1 °C for the summer in the second half of the 21st century compared with 1980–2009.

There are changes in the Swiss Alpine snow pack that may be due to climate change. However, the complex local influences on the snow pack via temperature, precipitation, radiation, wind and humidity

Climate change projections for the end of the century indicate a doubling of the number of summer days, tropical nights even above 1500 m and a

In the Alps, the overall frequency of debris flows may decrease in absolute terms, but the magnitude of events may increase.

Strong reduction of snow cover in the Alps is expected to have major impacts on winter tourism. Many ski-regions have mean elevations below 2,000 m

Swiss ski areas are located on average at higher altitude than those of neighbouring countries. The ski industry, therefore, is expected to be less affected in Switzerland

So far, forest fires do not constitute a significant hazard in the central and northern parts of the Alps, while on the southern side they are more common

The impact of climate change on hydropower production in the Swiss Alps during the 21st century has been assessed by combining climate projections ...

By 2100, Rhône runoff, for instance, is projected to change in seasonality and amount compared to the current climate ...

According to research among stakeholders, the most important impacts of climate change on tourism in Switzerland are snowpack reduction, melting glaciers, and water scarcity ...

The extremes of possible climate-change-driven habitat range size reductions are commonly based on two assumptions ...


I recommend

National plans/strategies for Switzerland

  • Switzerland’s Sixth National Communication under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (2014). Download.

Reports/papers that present a sound overview for Switzerland

  • OcCC/ProClim- (2007). Climate change and Switzerland 2050. Expected impacts on environment, society and economy. Download.

Reports/papers that focus on important Swiss topics

  • Agriculture and Forestry: Fuhrer et al. (2006). Climate risks and their impact on agriculture and forests in Switzerland. Download.
  • Avalanches and Landslides: Gruber et al. (2004). Permafrost thaw and destabilization of Alpine rock walls in the hot summer of 2003. Download.
  • River flood risk: Federal Department for the Environment, Energy, Transport and Communications DETEC (2008). The Floods of 2005 in Switzerland. Synthesis Report on the Event Analysis. Download.
  • Tourism: Agrawala (2007). Climate Change in the European Alps. Adapting winter tourism and natural hazards management.

Reports/papers that present a sound overview for Europe

  • Eisenreich (2005). Climate change and the European water dimension. A report to the European water directors.
  • European Environment Agency (2005). Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in Europe. Download.
  • European Environment Agency, JRC and WHO (2008). Impact of Europe’s changing climate – 2008 indicator-based assessment. Download.

Reports/papers that focus on specific topics, relevant for all of Europe

  • Agriculture: Rounsevell et al. (2005). Future scenarios of European agricultural land use II. Projecting changes in cropland and grassland. Download.
  • Agriculture: Fischer et al. (2005). Socio-economic and climate change impacts on agriculture: an integrated assessment, 1990–2080. Download.
  • Biodiversity: Thuiller et al. (2005). Climate change threats to plant diversity in Europe. Download.
  • Coastal erosion: Salman et al. (2004). Living with coastal erosion in Europe: sediment and space for sustainability. Download.
  • Droughts: Blenkinsop and Fowler (2007). Changes in European drought characteristics projected by the PRUDENCE regional climate models. Download.
  • Droughts: European Environment Agency (2009). Water resources across Europe – confronting water scarcity and drought. Download.
  • Forestry: Seppälä et al. (2009). Adaptation of forests and people to climate change. A global assessment report. Download.
  • Health: Kosatsky (2005). The 2003 European heat waves. Download.
  • Health: WHO (2008). Protecting health in Europe from climate change. Download.
  • Insurance and Business: Mills et al. (2005). Availability and affordability of insurance under climate change. A growing challenge for the U.S. Download.
  • Security and Crisis management: German Advisory Council on Global Change (2007). World in transition: Climate change as a security risk. Summary for policy-makers. Download.
  • Storms: Gardiner et al. (2010). Destructive storms in European forests: Past and forthcoming impacts. Download.
  • Storms: Pinto et al. (2007). Changing European storm loss potentials under modified climate conditions according to ensemble simulations of the ECHAM5/MPI-OM1 GCM. Download.
  • Tourism: Deutsche Bank Research (2008). Climate change and tourism: Where will the journey lead? Download.

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EU funded Research Projects



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Fresh water resources



Mitigation / adaptation options and costs

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