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WEATHER

The big freeze: Switzerland’s largest natural ice rink ready for skaters

The Lac de Joux, the largest lake in the Swiss Jura, is now open to ice skaters and walkers after frigid temperatures this week sufficiently froze its surface.

The big freeze: Switzerland’s largest natural ice rink ready for skaters
Photo: Swiss Tourism
At 1,004m altitude, Lac de Joux sometimes freezes over in winter, becoming the largest natural ice rink in Europe. 
 
Speaking to 20 Minutes on Friday, the director of tourism in the area said the entire 9.2km2 lake wasn’t frozen, but that a section the size of 15 football pitches was frozen enough for skaters. 
 
But he warned not to stray from the designated areas.
 
Lac de Joux may be the biggest but it’s not the only natural rink in Switzerland. 
 
Also in the Jura, skaters have already taken to the frozen Lac des Rousses and the Lac des Tailleres, near the ‘Swiss Siberia’ of La Brevine.
 
 
Elsewhere,  the frozen Oeschinensee is open to hikers, skaters and ice-fishers, as is the 2,000m2 Seehofseeli in Davos. 
 
Always check the conditions before you set foot on the ice and obey signage and safety warnings.
 
Temperatures are set to stay below zero across much of the country in the coming days. 
 

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WEATHER

Climate crisis: Swiss lakes at lowest-ever August levels

Some of Switzerland's best-known lakes are at their lowest level ever for August after a dry year so far in 2022, the environment ministry said on Wednesday.

Climate crisis: Swiss lakes at lowest-ever August levels

Some of Switzerland’s best-known lakes are at their lowest level ever for August after a dry year so far in 2022, the environment ministry said on Wednesday.

At the same time, discharge levels on the Rhine, one of Europe’s major rivers which starts in the Swiss Alps, have never been so low in August since records began.

“There is a low water situation in Switzerland, especially on the central plateau and in the southern part of Ticino,” the country’s southernmost canton, said Michele Oberhansli, from the Federal Office for the Environment’s hydrology division.

READ ALSO: Water flown in by helicopter: How Switzerland has been hit by drought

“The reason for the existing situation is a precipitation deficit in the whole year of 2022, which affects the whole of Switzerland, as well as many other European countries,” she told AFP.

Soil moisture is down across the country and drought is affecting forests and agriculture, she said.

Lakes Constance, Lucerne, Lugano and Walen “are currently recording water levels that have never been so low in an August month since measurements began”, said Oberhansli.

Meanwhile Lakes Zug and Maggiore “continue to show values well below average”.

The shores of Lake Maggiore mark the lowest point in Switzerland, normally at 193 metres above sea level.

READ ALSO: MAP: The Swiss regions in danger of wildfires and the measures in place to avoid them

Except the lakes in the Jura region in the northwest and Lake Thun, the levels of all the other larger Swiss lakes are also below the long-term average.

Rivers down, glaciers melting

Meanwhile many Swiss rivers are recording readings that only occur once every two to 20 years.

“Discharge values on the Reuss and Rhine have never been so low since measurements began in August,” said Oberhansli.

The hydrologist said rain over the coming days should “slightly alleviate” the low water and drought levels, but would “not yet be sufficient to ease the overall situation”.

Following a dry winter, the summer heatwaves hitting Europe have been catastrophic for Switzerland’s Alpine glaciers, which have been melting at an accelerated rate.

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

A layer of ice — 15 metres thick in 2012 — has covered the Tsanfleuron Pass between two glaciers since at least the Roman era.

But most of it has gone and the ice on the pass will have melted away completely by the end of September, a ski resort said last week.

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