Impacts in the Alpine Republic already greater than elsewhere in Europe
According to the new report by the Austrian
Panel on Climate Change, the average temperature in Austria has already risen by
two degrees since 1880.
Richard Stiles / CC BY
Image from 2004 shows glaciers in the Grossglockner Range were already receeding significantly
This change compares with an average rise of 0.85
degrees in Europe as a whole and 0.5 degrees worldwide over the same time
period, while in Austria there has been a 0.5 degree rise since 1980.
The 1000 page Austrian report, which
builds on the IPCC study, is recognised as representing the current state of
the art in climate research,
The land-locked location and the altitude of most of the
territory are to blame, say a team of over 200 experts who have researched and
published the new national climate report.
Over the last 130 years amounts of
sunshine have increased by some 20% in the Alps and glaciers are already in an
advanced state of retreat. Without urgent action it is feared that there will
be a further rise of 3.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.
The particular geographical conditions prevailing in
Austria make it particularly sensitive to global climate change and the economy,
as well as the environment, is likely to be severely affected. The winter
tourism industry, which accounts for a significant part of the above average prosperity
in rural alpine regions, is particularly at risk, and is already partly
dependent on artificial snow in some years at lower altitudes.
However, it is not just the Alps which are affected: the hottest area of the country is the inner city of Vienna. There a significant increase in the number of days when the temperature will exceed 30°C are forecast to rise by the middle of the century to 30, and to 50 by the end of the century (the 30 year average for such 'tropical days' until 2000 was less than 18).
The Austrian Environment
Minister accepts that the changes were largely due to human
actions and not natural causes, but also made it clear that climate change can
no longer be prevented.
Adaptation measures, including flood protection, were
consequently necessary alongside further efforts towards climate protection. However,
fundamental changes in society and the end of fossil fuel use were also called
for by NGOs.
The original LE:NOTRE Projects were co-funded by the European Union's Socrates and Lifelong Learning Programmes.
The LE:NOTRE Institute has been established by ECLAS as foundation under Netherlands Law.