Swiss National Basic Climatological Network

The Swiss National Basic Climatological Network (Swiss NBCN) connects the major ground-based stations within the MeteoSwiss monitoring network. It consists of 29 climate monitoring stations and 46 precipitation stations. The measurement series available in digital form for temperature, precipitation and hours of sunshine date back, in some cases, to the mid-nineteenth century.

MeteoSwiss has been conducting systematic measurements of climate parameters at ground level in all parts of the country since 1864. Certain monitoring stations in this network are run with particular precision and are the bedrock for research into climate change. The particular ground-based monitoring stations in the network that are the most important from a climatological perspective together form the Swiss National Basic Climatological Network (Swiss NBCN). These provide the basis for long-term, continual high-quality climate data series.

29 climate stations and 46 precipitation stations

The Swiss NBCN consists of 29 climate stations and 46 precipitation stations.

Climate stations:

  • The 29 stations are able to provide the five parameters of temperature (average, minimum and maximum), precipitation and sunshine hours.
  • Long data series for all five parameters are available predominantly from stations at an altitude of under 1,000 metres above sea level.
  • In most cases, higher-altitude stations are only able to provide long data series for average temperature and precipitation.

Precipitation stations:

  • These 46 stations measure precipitation only (Swiss NBCN-P).
  • They are a useful addition to the climate stations in the Swiss NBCN owing to the fact that this parameter has a high level of local variability.

Selection of the stations in the Swiss NBCN

The following criteria were of prime importance in forming the Swiss NBCN and selecting the individual ground-based stations:

  • Long-term data series of a number of meteorological parameters
  • A representative geographical spread of the different sites throughout Switzerland, covering all climate regions and altitudes
  • Affiliation with international monitoring networks.

The Swiss NBCN and international climate reference networks

The following international climate reference network stations are also part of the Swiss NBCN:

  • GSN: The GCOS Surface Network (GSN) undertakes global climate monitoring and incorporates 980 stations around the world. The stations for this network were selected in 1997 for the World Meteorological Organization's Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) programme. In Switzerland, the Säntis and Grosser St. Bernhard stations are both part of the GSN.
  • RBCN: The Regional Basic Climatological Network (RBCN) incorporates around 2,600 ground-based monitoring stations in six WMO regions world-wide, and is concerned with continental climate monitoring. Eight of the Swiss NBCN stations are members of the RBCN network: Basel, Zurich/Fluntern, Geneva-Cointrin, Sion, Lugano, Payerne, Säntis and Grosser St. Bernhard. GSN stations also belong to the RBCN network by definition.

When it comes to regional climatological questions with particular reference to the Alps, these eight GSN and RBCN stations are not sufficient. In this sense, the Swiss NBCN can be considered as complementing the GSN and RBCN at national level.

Further information