Climate change impacts in France

Climate change impacts in France - what the IPCC 4th Assessment Report has found:
  • In the Massifs de Chartreuse, col de Porte of the French Prealps a 50% decrease of December 1st to April 30th snow depth at 1320 m elevation has been observed (1960-2005) [].
  • A climate warming-induced upward migration of alpine plants in the high Alps was observed to have accelerated towards the beginning of the 21st century [].
  • Invasion of evergreen broad-leaved species in Alp forests, with an upward shift of Viscum album (Mistletoe) [Table 12.1].
  • Alpine summit vegetation elevational shift, increased species richness on mountain tops (due to increased temperature) [].
  • The Alps could be one of the regions most affected by increase in year-to-year variability in summer climates and thus a higher incidence of heat waves and droughts. Mediterranean droughts would start earlier in the year and last longer [].
  • In the Rhone River, there have been significant changes in species composition, as southern, thermophilic fish and invertebrate species have progressively replaced cold-water species [].
  • South of France: Advance of fruit tree flowering of 1-3 weeks for apricot and peach trees, increase in spring frost risks, and more frequent occurrence of bud fall or necrosis for sensitive apricot varieties (1970- 2001) [].
  • In Alsace, the number of days with a mean daily temperature above 10°C (favourable for vine activity) has increased from 170 near 1970 to 210 at the end of the 20th century [].
  • Climate warming can change the disturbance regime of forests by increasing the range extension of some damaging insects as observed for the pine processionary moth in Europe. The pine moth has displayed a northward shift of 27 km/decade near Paris [].
  • By 2070s, a 100 year drought of today’s magnitude would return, on average, more frequently than every 10 years in western France [3.4]
	© WWF / Michèle DÉPRAZ

Brooks generated by the melting of glaciers in the Vanoise National Park. French Alps, Savoie, Franc

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Climate Witnesses

WWF runs the Climate Witness programme to collect people's local observations of climate change that are then verified by scientists.

Andrea Fabellini lives in Chamonix Mont Blanc, France, a beautiful little town at the foot of the Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe. Since moving there 10 years ago, he has witnessed a dramatic decline in snowfall and other changes in the local environment.

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