Due to its large water resources and an abundance of precipitation in the Alps, Switzerland is considered less vulnerable to droughts than other European countries. An increase in the number and intensity of droughts due to climate change is considered as a minor problem. Nevertheless, a workshop on 'Droughts in Switzerland' was held in spring 2000, and a report was publi
Whether or not the Alps will be affected more frequently by severe droughts as a consequence of climate change was never assessed systematically. During the 20th century droughts occurred less frequently than during previous centuries. The last major droughts date back more than a quarter century (1976, 1949 and 1947). Apparently, Switzerland is less vulnerable to droughts than other European countries due to the large water resources and precipitation in the Alps.
Little is known about the future development of the drought frequency. Climate models predict an increase in precipitation during winter. For the summer season, during which droughts occur, the model results show little agreement and no trend can be predicted. Nevertheless, according to the current understanding of the climate system, major shifts in the frequency and intensity of droughts are possible. Some models show signs of a decrease in soil moisture in central and southern Europe in the future.
From an increase in droughts, agriculture, forestry, hydro-electricity, water supply and tourism would be affected. However, the vulnerability of the different sectors can only partly be estimated from earlier events. Whereas globalization made it easier to substitute the supply of resources when there is a shortage, some sectors have become more dependent on water resources and therefore more vulnerable.
Currently, there seems to be no immediate danger by an increase in drought frequency and intensity in Switzerland. Nevertheless, further research on impacts and mitigation strategies is needed to ensure that the sectors most likely to be affected by droughts will be well prepared.
Quelle: OcCC (Hrsg.), 2000. Trockenheit in der Schweiz. Workshopbericht. Bern, 17 pp.