SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

WEATHER

Switzerland to get rain this week — at last

After weeks of very hot and dry weather, which have caused drought in many parts of the country, rain is forecast for Switzerland in coming days. But the reprieve from the heat will be temporary.

Switzerland to get rain this week — at last
It will be (temporarily) wetter and cooler in Switzerland. Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

While some areas of Switzerland have been hit by thunderstorms in the past days, providing some relief for agriculture and nature in general, the amount of rain has not been sufficient to counteract the effects of drought that has impacted much of the country.

The water levels of Lakes Constance, Walen, Lucerne and Lugano have reached historic lows, according to the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).

Continued drought has also impacted some rivers, including the Rhine, whose levels are “strongly to moderately” below average for the season, FOEN said.

The good news is that “the alarming situation on the drought front will finally ease somewhat in the coming days thanks to the return of the rains», according to Vincent Devantay, meteorologist at MeteoNews weather service.

The rains will begin on Wednesday afternoon, intensifying by the weekend, and “several areas of more or less active showers will finally follow one another until Saturday”, Devantay said.

By Saturday, these rainfall amounts are expected, according to MeteoNews:

  • Plateau, Lake Geneva basin, Valais Alps: 20 to 50 litres per square-metre
  • Jura Arc, Gruyère: 30 to 60 l/m2
  • Central Valais: 15 to 30 l/m2
  • Pre-Alps, Vaud Alps, Chablais: 40 to 80 l/m2
  • North of Switzerland: 10 to 30 l/m2
  • Central Switzerland, Ticino and Bernese Oberland: 50 to 100 l/m2

“These rains will bring some relief from the drought, but it would take several weeks of almost daily rain to see a real and lasting improvement”, Devantay said.

The rain will also bring in “much cooler temperatures”, but the summer weather will make a comeback from Sunday, “with increasingly warm temperatures and no clear deterioration is in sight for the future”.
 
 READ MORE: Body stress, drought and borders: How the heatwave affects Switzerland

 

Member comments

  1. So here is a new comment as I had not posted my last comment twice and btw neither did I ever give myself the name ‘Anglaise’ .

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

ENVIRONMENT

Swiss glaciers melting away at record rate

Switzerland's glaciers lost six percent of their total volume this year due to a dry winter and repeated summer heatwaves, shattering previous ice melt records, a report revealed Wednesday.

Swiss glaciers melting away at record rate

The study by the Cryospheric Commission (CC) of the Swiss Academy of Sciences laid bare the drastic scale of glacial retreat — which is only set
to get worse.

“2022 was a disastrous year for Swiss glaciers: all ice melt records were smashed,” the CC said, adding that a two percent loss in 12 months had
previously been considered “extreme”.

Three cubic kilometres of ice — three trillion litres of water — have melted away, the report said.

“It’s not possible to slow down the melting in the short term,” said glaciology professor Matthias Huss, head of Glacier Monitoring in Switzerland,
which documents long-term glacier changes in the Alps and is coordinated by the CC.

If carbon dioxide emissions are reduced and the climate protected, “this might save about one third of the total volumes in Switzerland in the best 
case, he told AFP.

Otherwise, the country “will be losing almost everything by the end of the century.
century”.

Saharan dust speeds melt

At the start of the year, the snow cover in the Alps was exceptionally light, then a large volume of sand dust blew in from the Sahara Desert between
March and May, settling on the surface.

The contaminated snow absorbed more heat and melted faster, depriving the glaciers of their protective snow coating by early in the European summer.The continuous heat between May and early September therefore ravaged the glacial ice.

By mid-September, the once-thick layer of ice that covered the pass between the Scex Rouge and Tsanfleuron glaciers had completely melted away, exposing bare rock that had been frozen over since at least the Roman era.

And in early July, the collapse of a section of the Marmolada glacier, the biggest in the Italian Alps, killed 11 people and highlighted how serious the
situation had become..

According to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published in February, the melting of ice and snow is one of the 10 key threats from climate change.

Smallest glaciers hardest hit

“The loss was particularly dramatic for small glaciers,” the CC said.

The Pizol, Vadret dal Corvatsch and Schwarzbachfirn glaciers “have practically disappeared — measurements were discontinued”, the commission
said.

In the Engadine and southern Valais regions, both in the south, “a four to six-metre-thick layer of ice at 3,000 metres above sea level vanished,” said
the report.

Significant losses were recorded even at the very highest measuring points, including the Jungfraujoch mountain, which peaks at nearly 3,500 metres.

“Observations show that many glacier tongues are disintegrating and patches of rock are rising out of the thin ice in the middle of glaciers. These
processes are further accelerating the decline,” said the report.

“The trend also reveals how important glaciers are to the water and energy supply in hot, dry years,” the report stressed — something to consider given that hydroelectricity provides more than 60 percent of Switzerland’s total energy production.

The glacial meltwater in July and August alone would have provided enough water this year to completely fill all the reservoirs in the Swiss Alps.

But Huss said that if the country experienced this year’s meteorological conditions in 50 years’ time, “the impact would be much stronger, because in
50 years, we expect that almost all glaciers are gone and therefore cannot provide water in a hot and dry summer”.

Melt reveals macabre finds

The melting of the glaciers has also had some unexpected consequences.

Hikers are regularly making macabre discoveries as bodies are being freed from the ice they have been encased in for decades or even centuries.

The melting can also be a boon for archaeologists who suddenly have access to objects that are thousands of years old.

Meanwhile, the melting of a glacier between Italy and Switzerland has moved the border that ran along the watershed, forcing lengthy diplomatic
negotiations.

SHOW COMMENTS