The Alps are richly blessed with rainfall - still.
A team of researchers predicts that the mountain region will experience significantly more droughts in the future if nothing changes in terms of climate change.
Munich - The Alps are a natural paradise - millions of tourists travel to the picturesque mountain regions in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy, Slovenia and France every year. Lush green forests and snow-capped peaks are a must for everyone who imagines a vacation there. But that could soon be over. Researchers are predicting ever more severe periods of drought in the future, especially for the famous mountain region, which will inevitably affect the flora and fauna.
In addition to the Alps, according to a regional climate model in Europe, there is an increased risk of hotter and longer summer droughts in the future, especially for Spain and the Mediterranean region.
By the year 2100 these could become 25 percent more frequent.
Increased droughts and forest fires, which now occur regularly, are said to be harbingers of this change.
The Alps, here a picture from Carinthia, are currently a green paradise.
However, this could change soon.
© Joachim Hauck / dpa-tmn
Andrea Böhnisch and her team from LMU Munich examined the possible future climate more closely.
In a study they focused on a scenario with unchecked climate change for the period 2080 to 2099. As an indicator for the various regions of Europe, the team used the percentage deviation of precipitation from the long-term mean.
Alps: Risk of drought rises sharply - "Future hotspot for droughts"
The result is clear: “We are finding a clear trend towards more, longer and more intense summer droughts by the end of the century,” says Böhnisch's colleague Magdalena Mittermeier.
In seven out of eight sub-regions, precipitation will decrease significantly in summer.
Only in Scandinavia will there be no increased drought despite climate change - in Great Britain, Central Europe, the Alps, Eastern Europe, France, the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean area there will be.
The difference between winter and summer is also increasing, the researchers report: The cold season is getting wetter, while the summers are drier.
However, the increased rain in winter is not enough to compensate for the summer droughts.
For the Alps, the risk of droughts increases by 20 to 40 percent in August.
This will represent a completely new scenario for the mountain region: “It is characteristic of them that the precipitation in the summer months accounts for a large proportion of the annual rainfall.
That makes deficits in summer rain even more critical. ”In two to four out of 20 years, the Alps will experience extreme summer drought.
Mittermeier: "The Alps should therefore be seen as a future hotspot for droughts."
96 percent more droughts on the Iberian Peninsula - there is still time to avert the horror scenarios
In areas already affected by drought, such as the Iberian Peninsula (96 percent more) and the Mediterranean region (80 percent more), the drought will continue to intensify.
“The Iberian Peninsula is forecast to experience extreme droughts of more than three months each year, most of them in the summer,” the researchers said.
Parts of southern Spain will probably turn into a desert if the temperature is two degrees.
Climate change has never been so precisely predicted.
"As far as we know, this study is the first region-specific analysis of droughts in Europe using high-resolution ensemble simulations of regional climate models," said the research team.
It warns urgently: Even where there is still enough rain today, there will often be drought in the future.
The conclusion of the scientists is clear: This scenario can still be prevented - through consistent climate protection.
This is "also highly relevant for Europe."
Winter could feel icy this year. At least that can be speculated according to an initial forecast by weather experts.
Winter could feel icy this year.
At least that can be speculated according to an initial forecast by weather experts.