In the Alpine foothills, we can expect temperatures to rise by 2–3°C compared to today’s levels by the middle of this century if global greenhouse gas emissions are not drastically reduced. Winter precipitation is also expected to increase, whereas the summer months will become drier.
Since measurements began in 1864, temperatures in the Alpine foothills have risen significantly. How severely and quickly warming takes place depends on how the amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere change. If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated at the current rate (RCP8.5 emission scenario), then the annual average temperature in the Alpine foothills can be expected to rise by a further 2.0–3.3°C above that of the normal period of 1981–2010 by the middle of this century. This warming is greater in summer than in winter. If a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (RCP2.6) can be achieved globally, however, then the additional warming can probably be restricted to 0.6–2.0°C.
Summer precipitation in the Alpine foothills changed little in the 20th century, whereas precipitation in the winter months increased significantly. Without effective climate change mitigation (RCP8.5), precipitation in winter is likely to increase even further: By the middle of this century, climate models indicate an increase of between 2% and 27% in the winter months (December to February). In summer, however, less rain is expected to fall: The simulated changes range between -27% and +5%. Climate change mitigation would moderate these changes significantly. Despite reductions in total precipitation, heavy rainfall events are likely to increase in number and intensity, both in summer and in the other seasons. In general, the uncertainty of changes in precipitation levels is greater than for changes in temperature.
What do RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 mean? You can find an explanation of the emission scenarios here.
Last modification 22.12.2021