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Climate Change Will Heat Switzerland Swiftly

the ice age over.
by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) March 14, 2007
Switzerland will suffer regular heatwaves and drought by 2050 as average temperatures rise swiftly and disrupt living patterns in the heart of Europe, a report predicted Wednesday. The report commissioned by the interior and environment ministries forecast that average temperatures in the Alpine country would rise by at least 2.0 degrees Celsius in summer and 3.0 degrees C in winter by 2050.

Measures to cut carbon emissions will have little impact on climate change by then, the report by the Swiss ministerial consultative body on climate change said.

The Swiss global warming estimates are in the middle of the range of new global average temperatures for the end of the century forecast by a panel of UN climate change scientists, but are expected to occur earlier.

Rainfall in Switzerland will drop by about one-fifth during summer by the middle of the century, sharply reducing water availability through to the autumn, the report said.

It predicted that agriculture would be affected by the sharp shift in the climate, prompting crop changes, and power supplies will falter. A large proportion of Switzerland's electricity is supplied by hydroelectric dams in the mountains.

Yet, the changing weather -- milder winters and hotter summers -- will shift energy needs towards more electricity due to demand for air conditioning and away from winter heating -- predominantly oil in Switzerland.

That changing pattern of energy demand, combined with cuts in carbon emissions, will also make wind power and renewable energy sources more economically viable, the report said.

The scientists who produced the study voiced concern about the impact on public health with the hotter summers, including from mosquito-borne West Nile Fever, but said the advent of malaria or dengue fever was unlikely.

By contrast, rainfall will increase by 10 percent in winter and is likely to be concentrated in potentially damaging sudden spells of heavy rain, while snow will only be found at higher altitudes, the Swiss panel said.

The country's core winter tourism industry faces disruption while transport routes in the Swiss Alps will be affected by the greater threat of landslides or flash floods caused by extreme weather, according to the report.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in January that fossil fuel pollution would raise world temperatures, worsen floods, droughts and storms, and damage the climate system for a thousand years to come.

The IPCC focused on a "best estimate" of a 1.8 to 4.0 degrees C increase in Earth's surface temperatures by the end of the century, in 2100.

Concerns about climate change have been heightened in Switzerland by noticeable changes summer and winter weather patterns in recent years, especially during a record mild winter that has just ended.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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