Switzerland experienced its hottest year on record in 2022, with far-reaching consequences for both humans and nature. The average temperature for the year rose to 7.4°C, marking a significant increase from the 5.8°C average of the previous decade. The summer of 2022 was particularly scorching, with temperatures exceeding 36°C in southern and northern Switzerland.
The prolonged heatwave lasted for 14 consecutive days in Lugano, making it the hottest two-week period ever recorded. The country also witnessed a significant decrease in water levels due to the lack of snow and rainfall. Some rivers and lakes experienced extreme drought conditions, with water sources drying up and water levels reaching historic lows.
The intense heat and drought had a profound impact on Switzerland’s glaciers, resulting in a loss of 6% of total ice volume. The melting glaciers raised concerns about rising sea levels and water scarcity. Additionally, the heatwave led to an increase in heat-related deaths, with 474 fatalities reported between May and September 2022.
The agricultural sector faced both winners and losers. While potato and apple harvests suffered losses, vegetable, fruit, and berry production thrived. The viticulture industry experienced a significant increase in both quantity and quality. However, the heat and drought posed challenges to livestock farming and alpine agriculture.
The media extensively covered the heatwave and drought, linking them to climate change. The coverage focused on topics such as extreme temperatures, the impact on daily life, wildfires, and economic consequences.
Overall, the extreme heat and drought of 2022 highlighted the urgent need for climate action and adaptation strategies to mitigate the future risks posed by climate change in Switzerland.