Less snow falling in lower Alps

Snowfall has been decreasing at altitudes of up to 1,500 metres in Switzerland since the end of the 1970s, researchers have found.

This content was published on March 9, 2012 - 17:54 and agencies

The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research looked at long-term measurements at 76 observation stations.

The institute said rising temperatures were a factor. There was an increase of 0.57 degrees measured each decade for the past 30 years, often transforming snow into rain from 2000 onwards.

Certain low-altitude stations recorded  a 60 per cent loss in snowfall. Winter temperatures at high altitudes were between -8 and -10, limiting the loss of snowfall.

There were also many variable factors, such as the extent of the snowfall. The lower mountains in canton Fribourg for example had a lot of good snow despite mostly milder temperatures.

Based on the findings, the institute said it would be possible in the future to predict the average reduction in snowfall in relation to a rise in temperatures.

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