Impacts on the natural systems

Climate change has implications for the water and material cycles, air quality as well as flora and fauna in Switzerland.

Water cycle

In the coming decades the following climate-induced changes in the water cycle are expected:

  • Change in the distribution of precipitation
  • Acceleration in the melting of glaciers
  • Rising snow line
  • Dwindling snow reserves
  • Increase in evaporation
  • Change in discharge patterns (seasonal course of the discharge)
  • Rise of low tide
  • Changes in floods
  • Rising water temperature
  • Degradation of water quality
  • Change in groundwater recharge


The soil is the Habitat for organisms and regulates the water and material cycles. These key soil functions are affected by climate change:

  • Increase in erosion
  • Decrease in slope stability in the high mountains
  • Decrease in water storage capacity
  • Change in the microbial materials cycles (such as, e.g., in the carbon and nitrogen content)
  • Increase in humus depletion and change in the composition of humus (und thus a decrease in carbon reservoirs in the soil)


How climate change affects air quality depends on the development of the relevant general weather situation (winds, radiation, formation of clouds, precipitation, temperature). In which direction Switzerland is headed cannot yet be precisely estimated.

Biodiversity and landscape

Irreversible changes in biodiversity could in part come as a result of climate change:

  • Changes in the seasonal development and growth periods in flora and fauna
  • Changes in the interactions among species
  • Changes in the distribution areas of individual species and populations
  • Extinction of species
  • Immigration / introduction of new species
  • Degradation of ecosystem services
  • Changes in the diversity of natural habitats

Further information

Last modification 04.09.2018

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