Near‐surface mean wind in Switzerland: Climatology, climate model evaluation and future scenarios

Graf, Michael; Scherrer, Simon C.; Schwierz, Cornelia; Begert, Michael; Martius, Olivia; Raible, Christoph; Brönnimann, Stefan (2019). Near‐surface mean wind in Switzerland: Climatology, climate model evaluation and future scenarios. International journal of climatology, 39(12), pp. 4798-4810. Wiley 10.1002/joc.6108

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Near-surface seasonal and annual mean wind speed in Switzerland is investigated using homogenized observations, Twentieth Century Reanalysis (20CRv2c) data and raw model output of a 75 member EURO-COoRdinated Downscaling EXperiment regional climate model (RCM) ensemble for present day and future scenarios. The wind speed observations show a significant decrease in the Alps and on the southern Alpine slopes in the period 1981–2010. However, the 20CRv2c data reveal that the recent trends lie well within the decadal variability over longer time periods and no clear signs of a systematic wind stilling can be found for Switzerland. The ensemble of RCMs shows large biases in the annual mean wind speed over the Jura mountains, and some members also show large biases in the Alps
compared to station observations. The spatial distribution of the model biases varies strongly between the RCMs, while the resolution and the driving global model have less impact on the pattern of the model bias. The RCMs are mostly able to represent the seasonality of wind speed on the Plateau but miss important details in complex terrain related to local wind systems. Most models show no significant changes in near-surface mean wind speed until the end of the 21st century. The model ensemble changes range from a 7% decrease to a 6% increase with an ensemble mean decrease of 1 to 2%. Due to model biases, the scale mismatch between model grid and station observations and the missing representation of local winds in the simulations, the changes need to be interpreted with utmost care. Future assessments might lead to major revisions even for the sign of the projected changes, in particular over complex terrain.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Climatology
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Graf, Michael Arthur; Romppainen-Martius, Olivia; Raible, Christoph and Brönnimann, Stefan


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology
900 History > 910 Geography & travel
500 Science > 530 Physics






[UNSPECIFIED] Swiss National Centre for Climate Services (NCCS)




André Hürzeler

Date Deposited:

02 Jul 2019 08:56

Last Modified:

05 Nov 2019 09:14

Publisher DOI:





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