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Tomorrow’s climate: warmer, wetter, costlier

Climate change means that natural disasters, such as mudflows, will occur more frequently in future – with greater damage and costs.

This winter was the second warmest in Italy and one of the wettest since 1800. The world’s largest reinsurer is now also warning of the increasing natural risks as a consequence of climate change.

Since records began around 1800, Italy has only once – in 1990 – experienced a warmer winter than 2013/14, reports the Isac-Cnr research institute. There was also an unusually large amount of precipitation, around 62% higher: the Alps saw a great deal of snow above 1,200 metres, while lower altitudes had considerably more rainy days than is normally the case.

The Swiss government is also addressing climate change. Its conclusion is that landslides, rock falls, rock slides and mudflows may all occur more frequently in the mountains in coming decades. At the beginning of April 2014 the Swiss adopted a further action plan for adapting to climate change. For the period 2016 to 2019 the Federal Government has earmarked 40 million Swiss Francs for measures to ward off the effects of global warming, for example by investing in the maintenance of protective forests.

In a recently published forecast, Allianz, the world’s largest insurance group, makes the assumption that the frequency and severity of natural disasters will also increase on account of climate change. The costs of adaptation will substantially increase with the continuing change in climate, adds the Swiss Federal Council. It is a fact that those who take preventive measures in good time will pay considerably less than those who have to repair damage later.

Sources and further information:

http://www.isac.cnr.it/climstor/climate_news.html (it), http://www.nimbus.it/clima/2014/140305Inverno2014.htm (it), http://www.montagna.tv/cms/56991/febbraio-e-inverno-2014-i-secondi-piu-caldi-dal-1800 (it), http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/368na1.pdf, https://www.news.admin.ch/message/index.html?lang=de&msg-id=52605 (de), http://www.ots.at/presseaussendung/OTS_20140402_OTS0035/allianz-risikoforschung-deckungsluecke-von-80-prozent-bei-erdbeben-und-hochwasser (de)