Annual mean temperature
The combustion of coal, gas and oil, together with forest logging and large-scale livestock farming, are the main causes of the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere that has been observed for several decades and the associated warming. Higher temperatures, even if only by a few degrees Celsius, have wide-ranging impacts upon natural systems and human societies.
The annual mean temperature in Switzerland is subject to relatively large natural fluctuations. Since around 1950, however, the observed fluctuations can no longer be explained by natural factors alone. The rising concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused by humans has contributed substantially to the observed warming. Temperatures in Switzerland have increased by 2°C since measurements began.
The annual mean temperature cannot be rated positively or negatively as such. However, the trend observed over the past decades gives cause for concern. The changes to the climatic setting are happening relatively rapidly; as a result, ecosystems and endangered sectors of the economy (such as winter tourism) are unable or have difficulty to adjust to the new conditions.
- Related indicators
- Auftauen des St. Moritzersees
- Blütezeit und Blattentfaltung
- Glacier retreat
- Greenhouse gas emissions
- Pisten mit Beschneiungsanlagen
- Temperature of watercourses
- Thawing of the permafrost
- Treibhausgas-Konzentration in der Atmosphäre
The Swiss temperature measurement series have been produced in accordance with internationally standardised methods. Globally, annual mean temperature variation since 1864 is about 1 °C, while it is around 2 °C in Switzerland. Global warming is more pronounced over the continents than over the oceans.
A global rise by 2 °C above the pre-industrialisation level is considered to be a critical threshold. If this threshold is crossed, severe ecological, social and economic damage is likely. In view of the longer-term development trends in greenhouse gas emissions and the great inertia of the climate system, it is becoming increasingly probable that global temperatures will indeed cross the 2 °C threshold.
With its ground-level observation system (SwissMetNet), the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSwiss) records a range of meteorological and climatological parameters across the entire territory of the country. The annual mean temperature for Switzerland describes the average temperature measured across the entire territory and at the different altitudes in Switzerland. High-resolution data are available from 1981. In order to extend the time series back to 1864 (beginning of records), the various measurement stations for the specified years are weighted on the basis of their representativity.