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Climate change in the Austrian mountain area. Causes, impacts and adaptation measures

12 September 2012

Climate change is the challenge of the 21st Century. Increasingly, the effects and dangers of global warming, such as shift in climate zones, glacier retreat or accumulation of extreme weather become clear. The Alps and the mountain area are among the most vulnerable regions. The great concern can be explained by the vertical height structure with its different climates, the fragile ecosystems with numerous cold-loving, endemic species and the spread of glaciers and permafrost. The latter has a (still) stabilizing effect on the lower elevations and Alpine permanent settlements. Finally the mountain area deliver many natural resources (water, soil, air) and associated ecosystem services. But also beneficial effects of climate change are indisputable: Higher temperatures will soften the harsh alpine climate, extend the period of growth and improve the general living conditions in the mountains.

The research report provides an overview of climate change in the Alps and the mountain environment, its causes, impacts and adaptation measures. Particular attention will be given towards Alpine ecosystems, mountain agriculture, forestry, tourism, transport infrastructure, water and energy. It is an analysis of favourable and unfavourable effects, and concludes with an overview of exemplary adaptation. Global warming is the Alps mountain region as enormous demands, climate protection measures in the form of reduction in fossil fuel consumption of the sectors represented in the mountain area (mitigation) are as necessary as preventive adaptation measures (adaptation) at local and regional impacts.


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