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Climate research

Switzerland is acutely aware of the threat of climate change, and the fact that climate changes in one part of the world have a global impact.

Switzerland cannot afford to ignore, for example, what is happening in the Arctic. Not surprisingly, therefore, Swiss scientists are active internationally in climate research, in both Swiss and foreign-financed projects.

Climate change in Switzerland

Some alarming predictions have been made for what may happen in Switzerland during the course of the 21st century. It is generally agreed that temperatures will rise, although there is no agreement as to the precise increase.

A study released by the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich in 2006 warned that by 2080 Switzerland could be five degrees warmer than at present, and that the weather could become ever more chaotic and extreme events more frequent.

The study suggested a stronger link than previously realised between the dampness of the soil and the phenomenon of heatwaves. At present the ground is generally damp enough to compensate for any extra heat in the summer. The dampness evaporates in the heat and cools the surroundings. But if it rains less in the future, as is predicted, this mechanism will no longer function, and the result will be regular heatwaves.

This seems to have occurred in 2003, when a summer heatwave followed months where there was little rain.

Climatic regions are moving northwards, and as part of this process the vegetation is changing. This in turn will have an impact on the storage of water in the soil.

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