Drought periods have serious consequences for agriculture, the water supply, energy generation and natural ecosystems. We create the informational basis that allows critical drought to be identified at an early stage and its consequences both on society and the natural environment to be evaluated and mitigated.
Comparison of the precipitation and temperature anomalies of the years 2003, 2015 und 2018 (© by MeteoSchweiz)
The risk of drought will increase in Switzerland as a result of climate change. Switzerland is already experiencing more very warm days and fewer very cold nights. We research the conditions under which water deficits occur in soils, groundwater and surface water, and how this affects natural ecosystems and society. For example, in the dry autumn of 2015, less hydroelectric power could be generated due to a shortage of water.
On the basis of long-term observational data, we develop computer models that can be used to simulate future developments in terms of water availability. This allows us to draw lessons from the present for the future. This dossier provides an overview of our research activities on the phenomenon of drought.
How does climate change affect the Swiss forest? We are investigating this question in the Valais dry valleys. They are among the driest regions in Switzerland and are a kind of window into the future: possible effects of climate change can already be investigated there today.