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Temperature and precipitation trends

Temperatures have risen significantly in all regions of Switzerland since pre-industrial times, with the largest increases experienced in the winter months in central Switzerland, and in the summer months in the Alps. As far as precipitation is concerned, with the exception of an increase in central Switzerland, no significant changes have been observed.

MeteoSwiss has at its disposal long-term series of measurements of temperature and precipitation taken at several meteorological stations, dating as far back as 1864 (Swiss National Basic Climatological Network). These time series are extremely valuable for understanding climate change in the past and the present. Prior to analysis, the data are thoroughly checked for measurement errors and temporal homogeneity in order to ensure that any man-made factors such as the relocation of stations or installation of new instruments do not have an impact on the results (Quality Control/Homogenization). Using statistical methods, values can be derived from the measurements taken at the individual stations in Switzerland and applied to locations that do not have their own measurement stations. These gridded data indicate the spatial distribution and trends for temperature and precipitation in Switzerland. In addition, by collating all of the measurements taken throughout Switzerland, trends and changes can be presented for different parts of the country, or for the country as a whole.

Temperature change since 1864

The mean annual temperature in Switzerland has risen by around 2°C over the past 150 years, with the increase slightly lower south of the Alps than in the north of the country. Other than that, no significant differences in mean annual temperatures can be observed between the various regions.

When we look at the individual seasons separately, however, marked differences between the regions become apparent. While the lowlands of central Switzerland saw a steeper rise in temperatures than the mountainous regions in winter, the opposite scenario was true for the summer months. In spring and autumn, warming was more homogeneous across the different regions, with a greater degree of warming occurring in autumn than in spring in most areas.

Changes in precipitation volumes since 1864

Significant changes in precipitation volumes since 1864 are only evident in central Switzerland, where the change is primarily due to an increase in winter months. Springtime precipitation has also increased in the Lake Constance region. As far as all the other regions of Switzerland and other times of year are concerned, no significant changes in precipitation have been detected.

Temporal development of temperature and precipitation

The following application shows the trends in temperature and precipitation in Switzerland and certain sub-regions since systematic measurements began in 1864, or since pre-industrial times (pre-industrial reference period). The deviations of the annual and seasonal values from the average of the period from 1961-1990 (normal period) are illustrated.


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