the high amount of precipitation in the Alps, relevant
hydrological, water management, social and environmental
of water are considered.
The melting of Switzerland’s glaciers has been observed for many years. Since the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850, the volume of glaciers in Switzerland has decreased by more than half. As temperatures increase, glaciers melt faster and precipitation falls more often as rain than as snow. When glaciers melt, the important “glacial reservoir” of the water balance changes.
At the moment, glaciers are not in equilibrium with the current climate conditions. Were the climate to remain as it is today, the glaciers would continue to shrink over the next several decades to half of their current volume. However, experts expect an increase in temperature of 3°C by the year 2085 (plus or minus one degree). This warming will have severe repercussions for Swiss glaciers: according to models, only 20 to 30% of the current glacier volume will remain by 2100. Most of the remaining glacier volume will be in the Rhone catchment area, thanks to the largest glacier in Switzerland, the Aletsch.