Switzerland faces hotter, drier summers and snow-scarce winters: study

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Switzerland faces hotter, drier summers and snow-scarce winters: study
Slopes without snow in the Swiss Alps resort of Les Crosets in January 2017. File photo: AFP

Switzerland can expect drier summers, more hot days, heavy rainfall and snow-scarce winters if greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked, according to new climate modelling.


The Climate Scenarios CH2018 study warns Switzerland could in future have to deal with problems like dry soil, tropical nights and increased flooding.

Read also: Switzerland is rapidly losing its snow (and climate change is probably to blame)

“We have to prepare for the changing climate and adapt,” said project leader Andreas Fischer from Switzerland’s Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSwiss).

Researchers from MeteoSwiss, the University of Bern and Zurich's ETH technology institute mapped climate scenarios for the next 100 years to build their models.

That modelling indicates Switzerland could face drier summers with 25 percent less rainfall than is seen currently if climate change is not mitigated (a scenario which would mean a possible rise in average global temperatures of 2–3C by the middle of this century).

These drier summers would also lead to drier soils, according to a statement put out by ETH on Tuesday.

Hot summers like 2018 and the record-breaking summer of 2013 could also become normal with temperatures up 2C to 5.5C on today on the hottest days of the year. Heatwaves would be both more common and more extreme.

At the same time, rainfall could also become heavier: up to 10 percent on current single-day highs.

Lastly, winters could get as much as 2C to 3.5C warmer meaning a higher snow line and only half as much snow at low altitudes compared to now.

For their study, researchers also looked at a scenario where mitigation measures limited the global temperature increase to 2C above pre-industrial levels.

“With consistent climate mitigation, about half of the potential changes in Switzerland’s climate could be avoided by the middle of the 21st century, and about two thirds could be avoided by the end of the century,” says Reto Knutti, climate scientist at ETH Zurich.

But the best-case scenario still means adapting to increased global temperatures. There is no resetting the clock, according to the study models.

Read also: Survey- Swiss believe in made-made climate change but do little to combat it


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