A recent study revealed that the duration of snow covering Switzerland declined significantly in recent decades. The main reason for shorter winter season is late snowfall and earlier snow melting in the spring.
On average, the snow season today begins 12 days later and ends 25 days earlier than in 1970. This was published in a study by the University of Neuchatel and WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research. The decrease in snow cover was twice as big in the spring as in the autumn, according to the research team.
Data from eleven MeteoSwiss weather stations in various Alpine regions were evaluated and analyzed by researchers in the period from 1970 to 2015 to evaluate the winter seasons.
Researchers came to a conclusion that duration of snow cover in areas between 1,100 and 2,500 meters above the sea level decreased over the last decades. All stations showed a significant decrease, regardless of their altitude or geographical location.
For WSL researcher Martine Rebetez these new results show that the duration of snow cover is not decreasing in low altitudes only, where it is visible to everyone, but in all investigated altitudes.
Researchers also found that the maximum measured annual snow cover declined on average by 25%. Moreover, it now occurs 28 days earlier than it did 45 years ago.
It is hard to estimate whether this trend will continue in the future. However, it is expected that both winter season for tourism as well as summer events may be affected as a result of this development.