Since 1958, the temperature has risen by between 1 and 3 degrees in the French Alps (source: French national meteorological service's research centre).
This warming can be observed throughout the Alps, from the Tyrol in Austria to the Southern Alps in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region of France.
The consequences of the change are affecting the Alps' natural environments as a whole, including the lakes.
This has prompted lake specialists to together seek solutions that can be applied to the entire Alps range.
A number of initiatives are to be conducted under the SILMAS project:
One of the main problems with regard to climate change is the lack of data on the subject. The information needed for in-depth work has been collected for only fifty years at the most. However much data is still unavailable today.
And yet, in order to be able to cope with these inevitable changes, it is essential to have very detailed studies that will help us tackle climate change.
The Regional Agency for the Protection of the Environment (ARPA) in the Piedmont region of Italy is responsible for collecting a maximum of data on climate change from across Europe. Each partner is invited to share whatever information it possesses.
ARPA Piedmont scientists will then compare and analyse the data to observe the effects of climate change on the Alpine lakes. The study will be made public and presented to the appropriate decision-making bodies at local level. It is a practical tool intended to help local decision-makers take the decisions necessary to curb the effects of climate change.
Mountain environments are particularly sensitive to climate change and would be the first areas to suffer the impacts.
Glacier l'Argentière in 2006 (french Alps)
glacier l'Argentière in 1864 (french Alps)
At the same time, scientists at the Lake Constance institute will work in close partnership with Austrian researchers from the Joanneum Research institute to develop a hydro- and thermodynamic model. This model will be used to assess, in great detail, the effects of climate change on three lakes: Lake Constance in Germany and the Wöthersee and MillstättseeLakes in Austria.
The scientific work, the study and the models will serve as the basis for a guide entitled "The effects of climate change on the Alpine lakes, and how to tackle them". The guide will be published at the end of the SILMAS project, in 2012. It will be widely distributed and the research carried out on climate change will be presented to the Alpine Convention.