How will climate change affect your community

Climate change and its consequences

Greenhouse gases have also been increasingly released around the world since industrialization. This initiated a massive intervention in the global climate system.

Average temperatures on earth will continue to rise in the coming decades. This warming is caused by the so-called greenhouse effect.

We are currently in the midst of climate change.

The following is a selection of the effects of climate change on a global level as well as directly in Austria:

Global consequences

Studies show that areas just above sea level in particular will be hardest hit by the effects of climate change.

But other areas are not spared either - here are the most serious global consequences of climate change:

  • Further rise in temperature
  • Crop failures
  • Increase in natural disasters and extreme events such as
    • Heavy precipitation events
    • Floods
    • Storms
    • Droughts
    • heat waves
    • Forest fires
    • Hail events
    • Avalanches
    • Debris flows
  • Soil erosion
  • Rise of the sea level
  • Glacial melt

The living conditions for people, animals and plants can also change:

  • Today's residential areas could become uninhabitable due to heat, drought, rising sea levels, etc.
  • Species extinction in the animal and plant world - many endangered animal species and plants will not be able to adapt to the changed living conditions
  • The increased occurrence of pathogens and diseases that have not yet been detected in the respective regions will pose new challenges for medicine and research

Since poor sections of the population will be most severely affected by the disasters to be expected, flows of refugees and migrations of previously unknown proportions are also to be expected in the foreseeable future. These effects of climate change will in turn be felt worldwide and can only be managed globally.

Possible consequences in / for Austria

The effects of climate change are diverse. Average temperatures in Austria will continue to rise until the middle of this century. Expect hot, drier summers with around twice as many days over 30 degrees Celsius as until now. The winters are likely to be less cold on average and therefore less snowy, especially a decrease in the number of days with snow cover is to be expected for a number of winter sports locations.

Possible consequences of a further rise in temperature in the Alpine region are: increasing intensity and frequency of precipitation, more hail, but also more periods of drought, reduced soil water content, floods, mudslides, retreating glaciers, pest invasions, etc.

The rise in the permafrost limit leads to an increasing risk of landslides in alpine regions.

The Agriculture is among the most affected by climate change affected fields of activity. Due to the increasing drought and the increased climatic variability, yield and quality losses and decreasing yield security will be part of normal economic activity. It can also be assumed that insect pests will develop more rapidly, with heat-loving species spreading strongly to the north.

Similar problems can also be found in forestry. As the most common native tree species, the spruce is the big loser in the rise in temperature. Due to the increasing Drought stress and increased Pest infestation she comes under great pressure. In many places there is a loss of the protective function of the mountain forest. Forest fires in summer could become a threat in Austria, similar to what is already happening in the Mediterranean region.

The alpine glaciers have lost around 50 percent of their ice in the last 100 years due to temperature increases and changes in precipitation. This trend is expected to continue. The visible retreat of the glaciers in the Alps means a loss of natural ones water-tank and one clearly decreased attractiveness of the mountain regions, which is again of great importance for tourism. Mild winters without enough natural snow could have a negative impact on winter tourism.

Dangers to human health that should not be underestimated arise, among other things, due to the direct Heat stress in summer (including slight nighttime cooling), on the other hand due to the changed distribution of Pathogensor their carriers.

Austrian Assessment Report on Climate Change

The first Austrian assessment report on climate change was published in September 2014. More than 240 Austrian climate researchers contributed to the preparation of the report, which was funded by the Climate and Energy Fund. The 1,000-page report contains the latest information on climate change and its effects in Austria, as well as mitigation and adaptation measures.

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Last updated: April 13, 2020

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology