The Alps are a world famous destination for vacations, and many travelers visit these mountains each year to ski and snowboard during the winter months. The Swiss government is concerned about climate change because it is having significant effects on the snow in the Alps.
The European Environment Agency is researching the effects of climate change in the Alps. Specifically, the Alps are heating up as more carbon is added to the atmosphere. According to the European Environment Agency, the temperature in the Alps is increasing twice as fast as the overall temperature average for the entire planet. This is a major problem, as a smaller temperature increase here will cause the snow to melt without other locations seeing a temperature increase that impresses the urgency of the issue on them.
The major concern with climate change in the Alps is water supply. The tourist resorts use a lot of water, and Switzerland also supplies water to other parts of Europe. A temperature increase will cause a drought, and instigate conflicts between the separate cantons. Switzerland might be forced to shut down some of its resorts because its citizens need the water, and a snowfall reduction might also limit the season for some outdoor activities.
The Swiss government is also studying the effects of climate change in the Alps. Melting snow on mountains changes a solid ice pack into water and mud. This creates hazards as the mountains themselves are no longer stable, and there will be avalanches, mudslides, falling rocks, and other disasters as the snow melts further. According to Swisster, melting permafrost is already increasing the levels of bacteria in Swiss drinking water and the runoff from the mountains is contaminating well water supplies.
Even the small expected change is expected to have a drastic effect on resorts, according to Swiss Info. The global temperature increased about two degrees Celsius in the last 250 years, according to Swiss Administration News. Of course, global temperature is increasing faster now as more companies become industrialized and build factories and cars. An increase of two degrees Celsius globally will raise the average temperature in the Alps about four degrees, and according to Swiss Info this would make snow cover unreliable for half of the resorts in Switzerland. The effect of climate change is much greater in German areas of the Alps, where only a one degree Celsius increase makes sixty percent of their resorts unreliable for snow coverage.