Climate change & effects

The global climate has had natural fluctuations over periods of time ranging from a several years to millions of years. Since the beginning of industrialization the composition of the atmosphere has increasingly changed due to greenhouse gas emissions. This man-made development amplifies the natural greenhouse effect and leads to a noticeable change in the climate.

The global temperature has already risen by an average of 1°C in the last 135 years (1880-2017). In particular, the considerable rise in temperature since 1950 by about 0.65°C cannot be explained by natural climate fluctuations. It is in all likelihood caused by greenhouse gases. They are caused by the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, and by large-scale changes in the use of land, such as deforestation in tropical rain forests.

Climate change has far-reaching effects, e.g., on the water balance, biogeochemical cycles, flora and fauna and on many areas of society.

Observed climate history in Switzerland

The high quality and long climate measurement series dating back to the 19th century form a very good basis for estimating the current climate development in Switzerland. On the basis of this data important environmental indicators can be calculated. More information about the state of the climate can be found at MeteoSwiss.

Analyses show:

  • A rise in temperature in Switzerland of about 2°C is clearly detectable since the beginning of industrialization (1864) to 2012, thus exceeding the global value of 1°C by more than double.
  • Changes in mean precipitation have hardly been observable to date due to large annual fluctuations.
  • In particular, in the plateau, the number of summer and hot days is rapidly increasing. In Zurich, for example, there has been an increase of one to two heat days per decade since 1960.
  • The number of frost days has decreased significantly since the 1960s. There has been a decrease in Zurich of six days per decade.
  • The zero degree line in winter has risen by about 300 m since the 1960s.

Further information

Last modification 28.09.2018

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