It is the most comprehensive study ever conducted on the evolution of the snowpack in the Alps. It collects data from 2,000 weather stations, spread across six Alpine countries (Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Slovenia and Switzerland), from 1971 to 2019. , published on Thursday 18 March, appeared in the magazine The cryosphere.
The result is clear: everywhere in the last fifty years the snow season has shortened, from 22 to 34 days depending on the Alpine region. Snow on the ground tends to appear later in winter and clear up earlier as spring approaches. Average snowfall between November and May decreased by 8.4 on average % per decade.
The 1970s and 1980s were generally snowy, followed by a period of snow-poor winters in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since then, although the snow depth has increased again to some extent, it has not reached the level of the 1970s.
Beyond these averages, the data also show that the effects of climate change on snow are unevenly distributed. In the southern Alps, which are already less snow-capped than their northern counterparts, snow depths below 2,000 meters have decreased more than in the northern Alps, this study shows.