Projections indicate that droughts are likely to intensify further. This is not only a problem in summer, when there is a lack of water for irrigation in agriculture and when low water levels lead to shipping restrictions on rivers. It is also a problem in winter, when there is little water available for hydropower production and when snow-free mountains endanger ski tourism.
Major floods will become even more severe in the future
Observations of floods do not provide a clear picture yet: in some areas, increasingly heavy precipitation is leading to more intense events, while in others less or earlier snowmelt is cushioning the impact of more intense precipitation. However, projections indicate that severe floods will become more frequent and more severe in the future, leading to rising damage and management costs.
In short: the future of Europe’s water reservoir looks anything but rosy.
So what can we do?
For me, it is clear that we need to adapt to the new water risks. The good thing is that we can do this, as Switzerland already has experience in dealing with extreme events. There is a warning platform for floods, and one for drought is planned for 2025. Moreover, we have the necessary means and the technical knowledge to implement protective measures.