Saturday, March 15, 2014

Impacts of climate change in Switzerland: adaptation and climate change mitigation must go hand in hand

AlphaGalileo via University of Bern: Southern Switzerland emerges as a hotspot of the effects of climate change. And the bark beetle is putting spruces all over Switzerland under increasing pressure, because an additional generation of pests could hatch each year due to the rising temperatures. These are two of many statements from the report «CH2014-Impacts», which deals with the quantitative consequences of climate change for Switzerland. It has been produced under the direction of the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research of the University of Bern.

More than 20 research groups from all over Switzerland have worked on the climate change impacts report during the past two years. The unprecedented project was initiated and coordinated by the Oeschger Centre of the University of Bern; it was financially supported by the Federal Office for the Environment (BAFU) and MeteoSchweiz. In its investigations into seven subject areas – from glaciers and water balance to woods, biodiversity and agriculture to health and energy – the researchers took the so-called «CH2011 Scenarios» as their starting point for the future development of temperature and precipitation in Switzerland. From these climate scenarios they derived concrete impacts. With this uniform basis the numerous research groups were able to feed the same data into their models and thus make the results comparable. «This approach provides valuable foundations for the development of adaptation strategies», says Christoph Raible from the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research of the University of Bern, which coordinated the project.

The results of the «CH2014-Impacts» project confirm existing knowledge concerning the consequences of climate change and provide new findings. For example, previous assessments concerning changes in the Swiss glaciers have been clearly corroborated: if no radical climate policy measures are taken, around 90 percent of the Swiss glaciers will disappear by the end of this century. Around half of the remaining glacial ice will already have melted away by 2035.

...One conclusion of «CH2014-Impacts» is that, with or without climate protection, Switzerland will not be able to do without adaptation. This also includes improved management, such as in agriculture for example – including the choice of varieties and pest control – and in water supply. Due to the changing streamflow in the rivers, it will in future be necessary to be more economical with the use of water. But climate change is also presenting forestry with new challenges. The changing conditions necessitate an adaptation of forest tending and the promotion of biodiversity....

The Aletsch glacier in Switzerland, shot by Didier Baertschiger, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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