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Federal government establishes network for climate services

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How can we draw on existing knowledge about the climate as part of the decision-making process? The National Centre for Climate Services NCCS helps government departments, politicians, the business sector and society to recognise the risks and opportunities. This in turn enables the risks to be reduced, opportunities to be exploited and costs to be optimised. The groundwork which is laid by the NCCS and various specialist departments helps to set the relevant players on the right track for a future in the context of climate change.


Climate services comprise research-based information on past, current and future climate and its consequences. They serve as the basis for decision-making with regard to dealing with climatic effects. Moreover, they are indispensable in the planning and implementation of climate change related measures, and in saving costs in the long term. Under the auspices of the Confederation, and based within MeteoSwiss, NCCS coordinates the preparation and dissemination of climate services in a comprehensible form. As an interface between science and practical applications, the NCCS encourages dialogue and fosters a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to the development of climate services. The Centre thus ensures that it focuses on the needs of the users.

Key focus areas

The NCCS develops climate services in several key focus areas. One of these is the documentation of the current variability of the climate system in Switzerland along with possible changes in the future. Other investigations focus, for example, on the impact of climate change on water resources, natural hazards such as floods or landslides, forest health, the distribution of tree species or the spread of pests in the agricultural sector. Scenarios for extreme climatic events are designed to improve the preventative measures, help to deal more effectively with hazard events, and improve civil protection.

Fostering dialogue on numerous levels

Thanks to the NCCS, all practical and regularly updated information and data on the climate will be available in one place. The website will be expanded to become a web platform for government departments, decision makers-in the political and business sectors, associations and the broader public. Network events will also be held to promote the exchange of knowledge and identify possible gaps in research. This dialogue serves as the foundation for the preparation and further development of the best possible climate services. When required, the NCCS organises interdisciplinary workshops for individual sectors such as the agricultural sector or on specific topics such as climate scenarios.

The NCCS in brief

As part of the Federal Council's action plan for adaptation to climate change in Switzerland, the NCCS is responsible for strengthening cross-sector collaboration in processing the data and information, which in turn serves to improve the joint information base of applied knowledge. The NCCS is the Federal government's response to the recommendations of the Global Framework for Climate Services GFCS, which was launched in 2009 by the World Meteorological Organisation WMO at the Third World Climate Conference in Geneva.

The parties involved in the NCCS include the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, the Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, the Federal Office for Agriculture FOAG, the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection FOCP, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL. The office is located at the MeteoSwiss headquarters in Zurich.

In addition to the above government offices and research institutions, Agroscope, the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL and the University of Berne are currently also involved in the NCCS. The aim is to attract additional institutions to join the NCCS.

The questions below are among the issues focused on by the NCCS:

  • Will it rain more and will we therefore have bigger floods? What does this mean for my town?
  • Will pests cause more losses in future in the fruit, wine and crop farming sectors? What does this mean for crop protection?
  • How much worse will the heat waves get? What does this mean for the population?
  • Which tree species should we promote today? Which species have a good yield in wood and provide a good habitat for animals and plants, even in times of higher temperatures and drought?
  • How will our water resources change? What implications does this have for society?


Gottardo Pestalozzi