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Decrease in water runoff from the Swiss Alps

A new study analyses the impact of a potential climate change on hydrological discharge regimes from the Swiss Alpine region for the period between 2020 and 2050. Eleven catchment areas with different glaciation rates and altitude ranges were examined.
The scenarios were derived from regional climate experiments obtained within the EU research project PRUDENCE, which are based on a mean regional temperature increase of approx. 1.2 °C between 2020 and 2050.
All the scenarios drawn up by the team of experts predict changes of the same trend, with only the amplitude and timing of the changes differing. The authors conclude that the mean hydrological discharge over the period 2020 to 2050 is set to decrease by 7% due to lower precipitations and increased evapotranspiration. According to the study the precipitation rates will decrease by an average of 2%. A substantial decrease in the glaciation rate in the catchment rates is also anticipated along with a shift in the maximum hydrological runoff from July to June. The study shows that the change in the natural discharge rate will also have negative repercussions on the hydroelectricity production of hydro-storage plants and run-of-river hydroelectric plants.
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