Regional Climate Scenarios for Austria

The Austrian research project reclip:century (Loibl et al. 2011) ran an ensemble of regional climate models with a spatial resolution of 10 km from the present to the middle of the twenty-first century. The climate change signals indicated by these models are generally similar to those driving global climate models; however, due to the better representation of the Alps, they are significantly more robust.

 

With regard to temperature, all models for Austria show a continuous increase of about 1.5–2.5°C by the period 2031–2060 (relative to 1971–2000). In particular, warming is expected in summer and winter; the lowest level of warming is projected in spring. The figure below shows that the temperature increase is evenly distributed across the entire Alpine region, although the regions south of the main ridge of the Alps tend to warm somewhat more rapidly.

© reclip:century
Source: reclip:century, Loibl et al. (2011)

The next figure presents an overview of climate change signals for seven sub-regions and the three currently available reclip:century models. The regional differences in temperature in the transitional seasons are minor, but in summer and winter they can amount to up to half a degree.

© reclip-century
Left: seasonal temperature means (according to HadCM3/CCLM/A1B; ECHAM5/CCLM/A1B, ECHAM5/CCLM/B1);
Right: relative change in precipitation in % (according to HadCM3/CCLM/A1B; ECHAM5/CCLM/A1B: explicit figures in % or – for small changes – indicated only as a trend, <-/->)
Source: reclip:century, Loibl et al. (2011)

Changes in precipitation are dependent on processes that are not adequately captured by global climate models (e.g. small-scale heat thunderstorms or large-scale extreme precipitation induced by orographic lift).

 

The precipitation scenarios downscaled from global climate models indicate that the total annual precipitation for the Alpine region should remain largely constant (see figure below), although the precipitation is expected to shift from the summer months to the winter months. The existing modelling results through the year 2100 predict an increase in precipitation in winter and a significant decrease in summer across all regions of Austria.

Data source: IPCC (2007); Source: Schöner et al. (2010)