Climate change "threatens Austrian Alps"

Experts predict severe effects on winter tourism, hydropower generation, forestry

Climate change is likely to have dramatic, damaging, effects on some of Austria's key Alpine regions, according to a report by meteorologists at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Vienna. Within 15 to 20 years, they predict, shorter periods of snow cover in regions below 1,500 metres will severely affect winter tourism - a crucial source of revenue in Austria. It will also affect hydro power stations. Head of the meteorological department, Helga Kolb-Kromp, said the provinces of Vorarlberg, Tyrol and Carinthia were most likely to be affected by changes. Another important economic sector - forestry - would also be hit. According to Ms Kolb-Kromp, "climate models indicate that, in the long run, spruce will become extinct." The loss of forests will reduce protection for Alpine villages from freak events such as landslides and avalanches, which are expected to occur more often. The report was published by Greenpeace Austria together with a list of demands to the government to take immediate action, including raising energy taxation, promoting thermal insulation for buildings and introducing effective traffic-curbing measures.

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