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Water resources and energy

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Switzerland is regarded as the "water tower of Europe". This is mostly because a lot of water is stored in the form of snow and ice in our mountains. Under the influence of climate change the availability of these resources will likely change. We study the processes involved and identify the risks and opportunities arising from this, including for hydropower.

 

Our snow and water run-off measurement networks throughout Switzerland record when and how much snow and water is available in specific locations. These measurements and the information derived from them allow for more reliable predictions to be made regarding water run-off levels. This is especially critical for optimising energy generation from hydropower.

Glaciers in retreat

One key climate change issue is to determine what consequences rising temperatures, melting glaciers and less frequent snowfall will have on water availability. To this end, we are examining the hydrological processes associated with glacial retreat. We explore the fundamental glaciological processes in laboratory and field studies in order to determine the former extent of glaciers and predict future water availability.

 

Topics

Snow as a water resource

How much snow accumulates where, and when does it melt? Hydropower plants and flood warning systems benefit from accurate snow hydrology forecasts.

Mountain glaciers

Knowing how glaciers evolve is crucial for hydropower operations, water availability, and assessments of natural hazards.

Energy potential in the Swiss Alps

The Energy Change Impact research programme investigated the resources needed for the energy transition and changing usage demands.

 

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