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Drought – a research topic
WSL research on early detection and effects of droughts
Since the hot summer of 2003 as well as in view of the expected climate change drought has become a research topic of socio-economic and ecological importance in Switzerland. Drought is the result of a scarcity of precipitation combined with a high consumption of water i.e. evaporation. Drought manifests itself with low water levels in rivers and lakes, dried up soils and low groundwater tables. There is a large number of user groups that can be affected by drought: most of all agriculture and forestry, but also power plants, fisheries, shipping and tourism.
How can critical droughts be detected early enough? And what are the effects of droughts on the forests and sensitive ecosystems in Switzerland? WSL conducts a wide range of research on these questions.
In the the National Research Programme NRP 61 Sustainable Water Management, the basic material is assembled to create an information platform for the early detection of drought in Switzerland. An important contribution comes from the SLF in Davos: they have data that show the current snow water distribution at any time.
In the context of the joint FOEN and WSL Research Programme Forest and Climate Change and the Competence Center Environment and Sustainability of the ETH Domain (CCES) various projects focus on the question how different tree species react on drought stress and what the long-term consequences may be for the forested area in Switzerland.
In these studies WSL cooperates with a number of substantial partners such as Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, Federal Office for the Environment FOEN , EAWAG, Agroscope, ETH Zürich and other research institutes in Switzerland and abroad.