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climate July heatwave adds to one of hottest Swiss summers on record

bathers in zurich

No free space beside the Limmat, in Zurich.

(© Keystone / Walter Bieri)

The month of July, as well as the combined period of June-July, have been among the hottest ever on record in Switzerland. 

Though the second heatwave of the summer has ended, the month of July was one of the hottest ever, according to the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatologyexternal link, MeteoSwiss. 

The national average temperature throughout the month was above 16°C, and though not the highest ever (in 1983, 2006, and 2015 the figure climbed over 17°C), it was enough to make it one of the six hottest Julys in history. 

North of the Alps, meanwhile, where temperatures are on average rising faster than further south, the average temperature in areas below 1,000 metres above sea level was over 20°C. 

Combined with the previous month of June – the second hottest on record in Switzerland – the two-month period in 2019 was also the second warmest ever, just behind summer 2003. 

graphic 1

graphic showing summer temperatures in Switzerland

Locally, record temperatures were recorded in several parts of the country. In Sion, canton Valais, an all-time high of 37.8°C was noted on July 24; a day later, the 2,000-metre Moléson peak in canton Fribourg saw a temperature of 27.2°C. 

The Swiss figures tally with other records set throughout Europe during the July heatwave: Paris (42.6°C), Germany (41.5°C), and Belgium (40.6°C). 

MeteoSwiss says the statistics are a striking sign of how intense periods of heat have become more frequent in past decades. In southern Switzerland, it writes, such heatwaves are happening at more and more regular intervals. 

“The increased occurrence of heatwaves today is one of the clear signs of climate change,” the office writes. “According to a current analysis by the Federal Institute for Technology Zurich, a heatwave in Switzerland such as that of July 2019 is ten times more likely to occur than if climate change did not exist.” 

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