Winter without snow – The consequences of a snowless Switzerland – Knowledge


In 80 years, the snow will have almost completely disappeared from the Swiss Mittelland due to global warming. What does this mean for animals and their habitat?

There is less and less snow in Switzerland – and it will probably stay that way. The Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) forecasts: By 2099, 70 percent of the snow will be above 1,500 m above sea level. M. disappear. In the Swiss Mittelland it is even 90 percent. Jara Helmi from “SRF CO2ntrol” met snow researcher and biologist Dr. Christian Rixen and talks to him about the consequences for nature and leisure time.

It’s getting warmer in Switzerland

Of course, global warming also plays a decisive role when there is a lot of snowmelt. Compared to the global average, the temperature in Switzerland has risen significantly higher in recent years: by around two degrees Celsius since industrialization in the Swiss Plateau.

Why is the temperature rising faster in Switzerland?

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Land masses warm up up to three times faster than bodies of water. Large oceans therefore have a cooling effect on land masses. Since Switzerland does not border a large ocean, it warms up faster and cannot be cooled by any body of water.

For example, where temperatures were just below freezing at the time, they are just above freezing today. In other words: Where snow used to lie, it is now melting away.

In general, the atmosphere is also getting warmer. So the snow not only melts away faster, it also falls from the sky less often – in other words, it rains more often. The layer of ice on the ground that forms during winter rain events has devastating effects on flora and fauna. In Lapland, Finland, a number of reindeer have died in recent years because they could not find food because of the frozen ground.

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The alpine landscape is about to change, says Dr. Christian Rixen from the SLF. With rising temperatures, it is assumed that the vegetation levels will shift upwards – for example the tree line. About 100 meters per 0.5 degrees Celsius. For alpine animals and plants, the limited habitat becomes smaller and smaller towards the mountain peaks.

There will be no more snowball fights by the end of the century, no more winter tires will have to be fitted and it will be louder and louder. What are these snowless forecasts doing to you? Let us know in the comments.

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All episodes of “SRF CO2ntrol” can be found at Play SRF.

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