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Climate Change in Switzerland: Effects of Extreme Precipitation Events – OcCC Assessment Report

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Image : Edith Oosenbrug

One of the most probable impacts of climate change on Switzerland is an increasing likelihood of flooding due to more precipitation, particularly in winter, according to a recent report from the Swiss government's Advisory Body for Climate Research (OcCC). Climate Change in Switzerland: Effects of Extreme Precipitation Events states that Swiss temperatures have increased by more than 1°C, and winter precipitation has increased by 10%-30% over the past century.
For Switzerland, climate models project a further increase in winter precipitation with global climate change, which, coupled with rising temperatures and a receding snow line, is likely to lead to an increase in high water levels in the winter. «Although this does not directly point to a greater frequency of floods, the trend is clear: we must expect increasing flood damage,» the report states. Indeed, government studies suggest that an increase in flood-related damage «would constitute a substantial proportion of all climate-change-related costs«. The risks to residential areas and infrastructure are likely to be the greatest in the Alps, the report suggests.
While damages from most of the projected flooding events can be absorbed by existing insurance systems, the reoprt states that there is some probability of extreme high-water events for which no insurance coverage will be abailable - «either now or in the future«. The report suggests that insurance companies should emphasize the risk of increased climate-induced flooding by calculating the funding required to cover risks and/or by developing premium schedules that reflect actual risks.
Copies of the report in German, English, and French are available from the OcCC Secretariat: Tel. (41 31) 328 23 23; Fax: (41 31) 328 23 20; e-mail:


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