, Volume 91, Issue 1-4, pp 27-34
Date: 27 Jun 2007

Monthly air temperature trends in Switzerland 1901–2000 and 1975–2004

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Summary

We analysed long-term temperature trends based on 12 homogenised series of monthly temperature data in Switzerland at elevations between 316 m.a.s.l. and 2490 m.a.s.l for the 20th century (1901–2000) and for the last thirty years (1975–2004). Comparisons were made between these two periods, with changes standardised to decadal trends. Our results show mean decadal trends of +0.135 °C during the 20th century and +0.57 °C based on the last three decades only. These trends are more than twice as high as the averaged temperature trends in the Northern Hemisphere.

Most stations behave quite similarly, indicating that the increasing trends are linked to large-scale rather than local processes. Seasonal analyses show that the greatest temperature increase in the 1975–2004 period occurred during spring and summer whereas they were particularly weak in spring during the 20th century. Recent temperature increases are as much related to increases in maximum temperatures as to increases in minimum temperature, a trend that was not apparent in the 1901–2000 period. The different seasonal warming rates may have important consequences for vegetation, natural disasters, human health, and energy consumption, amongst others. The strong increase in summer temperatures helps to explain the accelerated glacier retreat in the Alps since 1980.