Citizen science in mountain environments
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Climatology

The seasonal rhythms of living beings are closely dependent on temperatures. A few degrees higher is enough to speed up the bud burst or egg-layings by several weeks. These events are therefore valuable indicators of the impact of climate change on ecosystems.

Station de mesure des températures du CREA au Couvercle (Massif du Mont-Blanc 2 700 m) - © CREA Mont-Blanc

Mountains as a focus of study

The large diversity of microclimates, due to variation in altitude and slope exposure, make mountains a particularly rich field of study. To support research on climate, a network of 70 temperature measurement stations, specific to the Phenoclim programme, is displayed in the Alps. 

To find out more about the stations: specification sheet in the Toolbox

Snow cover

Snow cover is an essential climatic parameter in understanding the reactions of the mountain fauna and flora. By maintaining the temperature of the ground at 0°C in winter, the snowpack protects the plants from freezing and prevents a too early vegetation start in the spring. It also provides a major water resource in the spring.

Relevé des températures à Montroc (Haute-Savoie, 1400 m) entre octobre 2012 et mai 2013

Temperatures at Montroc (Haute-Savoie, 1,400 m) between October 2012 and May 2013. 

During winter months, the sensors located at ground level, covered by snow, always remain at 0°C, whereas those at 2 metre-high continue to oscillate with the air temperature variations.

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The Alps as a model

The Alps are particularly sensitive to current climate changes. The Western Alps have warmed up by +1.5 to +2°C over the last century, that is twice higher than the Globe average (+0.7°C).