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21st century climate change in the European Alps—A review

Description

Reliable estimates of future climate change in the Alps are relevant for large parts of the European society. At the same time, the complex Alpine region poses considerable challenges to climate models, which translate to uncertainties in the climate projections. Against this background, the present study reviews the state-of-knowledge about 21st century climate change in the Alps based on existing literature and additional analyses. In particular, it explicitly considers the reliability and uncertainty of climate projections.

Results show that besides Alpine temperatures, also precipitation, global radiation, relative humidity, and closely related impacts like floods, droughts, snow cover, and natural hazards will be affected by global warming.

Under the A1B emission scenario, about 0.25 °C warming per decade until the mid of the 21st century and accelerated 0.36 °C warming per decade in the second half of the century is expected. Warming will probably be associated with changes in the seasonality of precipitation, global radiation, and relative humidity, and more intense precipitation extremes and flooding potential in the colder part of the year. The conditions of currently record breaking warm or hot winter or summer seasons, respectively, may become normal at the end of the 21st century, and there is indication for droughts to become more severe in the future. Snow cover is expected to drastically decrease below 1500–2000 m and natural hazards related to glacier and permafrost retreat are expected to become more frequent.

Such changes in climatic parameters and related quantities will have considerable impact on ecosystems and society and will challenge their adaptive capabilities.

Reference information

Source:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969713008188

Published in Climate-ADAPT Feb 27 2019   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Sep 10 2022

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