Climate change and hydrology

Climate change affects the entire water cycle. Surface and underground waters are equally exposed to changes in water quantity and quality. This has direct impacts on hydropower, water supplies, urban drainage, navigation, agriculture, ecology and water-induced natural hazards.

Effects on the water balance and water management

Water availability in Switzerland will not change significantly by the end of the century.  However, precipitation will be distributed differently across the year and the quantity of water stored in snow and glaciers will fall due to the increase in temperature.  As a result, seasonal discharge distribution and thus seasonal water availability will change throughout almost the whole of Switzerland. Detailed information on the effects of climate change on water balance and water management can be found here:

Elaboration of hydrological bases for climate adaptation

In order to improve understanding of the hydrological process and update the knowledge base, the project “Climate Change and its Consequences on Hydrology in Switzerland” (Hydro-CH2018) was initiated. It represents one of the core topics of the Swiss Government network National Centre for Climate Services (NCCS).

New hydrological scenarios have been created on the basis of the updated 2018 climate scenarios. These focus mainly on the areas of extreme events (floods and low water), natural and man-made reservoirs as well as surface water temperatures and ecology. Climate services for water have been developed and made available. They give scientifically-based information and data on the past, present and future water balance. They will help authorities, policy makers, businesses and society to reduce climate-induced risks.

Teaserbild NCCS Hydro-CH2018 Personas

NCCS: Hydrological Scenarios Hydro-CH2018

Access to the results from the "Hydro-CH2018" project, publications, data sets, graphics and videos.

Teaserbild NCCS Themenschwerpunkt Hydro-CH2018

Core topic of the NCCS Hydro-CH2018: Hydrological principles of climate change

Information on the NCCS project "Hydro-CH2018", on the individual research projects and on documents from workshops and events within the framework of "Hydro-CH2018".

Previous studies

The effects of climate change on the water balance in Switzerland have already been investigated within the framework of the project "Climate Change and Hydrology in Switzerland" (CCHydro) of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). The studies from this project can be found under "Documents".

Further information


Studies within Hydro-CH2018

Studies within CCHydro

Klimaänderung und Niedrigwasser (PDF, 2 MB, 30.11.2011)Studie im Auftrag des BAFU, Uni Bern, November 2011.

Klimatologisches Downscaling (PDF, 4 MB, 07.02.2011)Studie im Auftrag des BAFU, ETH Zürich, Februar 2011.

Last modification 07.05.2021

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