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Climate change will heat Switzerland swiftly: scientists
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  • GENEVA, March 14 (AFP) Mar 14, 2007
    Switzerland will suffer regular heatwaves and drought by 2050 as average temperatures rise swiftly and disrupt living patterns in the heart of Europe, a report for Swiss authorities predicted Wednesday.

    The scientific report commissioned by the Interior and Environment ministries forecast that average temperatures in the Alpine country would rise by at least 2.0 degrees Celsius in summer and 3.0 degrees C in winter by 2050.

    Those Swiss estimates are in the middle of the range of new global average temperatures for the end of the century forecast by a panel of UN climate change scientists, but are expected to occur earlier.

    Rainfall in Switzerland will drop by about one-fifth during summer by the middle of the century, sharply reducing water availability through to the autumn, the report by the Swiss ministerial consultative body on climate change said.

    It predicted that agriculture and power supplies would be affected by the sharp shift in the climate. A large proportion of Switzerland's electricity is supplied by hyrodelectric dams in the mountains.

    The scientists who produced the study also voiced concern about the likelihood that tropical diseases would have a growing impact on public health with the hotter summers.

    By contrast, rainfall will increase by 10 percent in winter and is likely to be concentrated in heavier rain or snowfalls, the Swiss panel said.

    The changing climate would disrupt the country's core winter tourism industry through an overall lack of snow and affect transport routes in the Swiss Alps because of the greater threat of landslides, flash floods or other incidents caused by extreme weather, according to the report.

    The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in January that fossil fuel pollution would raise world temperatures, worsen floods, droughts and hurricanes, melt polar ice and damage the climate system for a thousand years to come.

    The IPCC focused on a "best estimate" of a 1.8 to 4.0 degrees C increase in Earth's surface temperatures by the end of the century, in 2100.

    Concerns about climate change have been heightened in Switzerland by noticeable changes summer and winter weather patterns in recent years, especially during a record mild winter that has just ended.

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