How does climate change affect Innsbruck?

What challenges lie ahead for Innsbruck in particular if the climate continues to warm.

This page was translated automatically. The City of Innsbruck assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the translation.

Climate change is happening. And it's happening at an accelerating pace - faster than the original projections calculated.

By 2020, average global warming was 1°C. In Austria, the average temperature has risen by around 2°C since 1880. These measurements show that the Alpine region and thus also the Tyrolean capital will have to reckon with about twice the warming than the global average.

The warming trend - on this scale and at this speed - is clearly noticeable for all residents of the city of Innsbruck. This was particularly evident in the summer of 2022: The number of heat days and the intensity of heat periods increases noticeably and a seasonal shift in the occurrence of 1st heat days is clearly visible.

Urban Climate Analysis

in 2020, an inventory of Innsbruck's climate and an overview-based urban climate modeling with a focus on heat stress was carried out in cooperation with the
Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) was prepared.

As a result, the urban climate analysis was created. It is an area-wide, systematic analysis of Innsbruck's urban climate, was prepared according to the VDI (Association of German Engineers) and supplemented by a summer measurement campaign.

Heat as a challenge

Climate change has many facets, but heat poses major challenges, especially for cities, due to dense development, sealed surfaces, and often low air exchange that brings cooling. The urban climate analysis is used, for example, to locate fresh air and cold air pathways so that they can be protected in a more targeted manner. In addition, the analysis shows which areas of the city are particularly overheated and which local adaptation measures (greening, unsealing, etc.) are necessary.

The modeling shows an increase in the frequency of summer and heat days: with 25 heat days, Innsbruck has twice as many heat days as Salzburg (12) and 10-20% more than Klagenfurt (max. 21). The temperature differences between the densely populated inner-city area and the urban periphery can be as much as 6°C.

In addition to heat, drought, heavy rainfall events and extreme wind phenomena are also increasingly affecting cities.

Maps of the urban climate analysis

The urban climate analysis includes - in addition to a comprehensive results report including recommendations - the following maps:

  • Theme maps (building volume, cold air and ventilation) provide the basis for the climate analysis map and the planning advice map.
  • The climate analysis map contains a synopsis of the climate phenomena relevant in the urban area and their spatial distribution. In order to do justice to the extreme topography of Innsbruck, the climatope "Reizklima" was developed. This high mountain climate is characterized by short summers and long and cold winters. Its importance lies in the interaction with the valley areas via the cold air conduction paths during warm summer nights. The Sill gorge and the course of the Sill through the city also represent a special structure; they form a fresh air corridor that reaches far into the city. These are just a few of the special features of the climate analysis map now available.
  • The planning information map evaluates the partly complex urban climatic functions. Thus, the climatic sensitivity of different areas can be determined and their value can be spatially assigned. The resulting recommendations and hints aim at improving the climatic conditions, coordinating future urban developments and mitigating the effects of the predicted climate change as far as possible.
    The planning notes map was divided into six categories: two categories are compensation areas, which are areas worthy of protection due to the cold air. Four categories concern partially or completely built-up settlement areas, which are designated with more or less thermal load. For all categories, there are specific recommendations with a mix of proposed measures.
  • Scenario maps: these maps show the impacts of future urban development and climate change.

Cold air pathways and protection of vulnerable groups

The results of the urban climate analysis emphasize the importance of (cold) air pathways for nighttime cooling. Even though the number of heat days is increasing, the city of Innsbruck does not (yet) record a significant increase in tropical nights. Nights when the minimum temperature does not drop below 20°C are considered to be particularly stressful for the human organism.

Vulnerable groups such as elderly and impaired persons or small children are particularly affected. It is important to protect these groups and to implement measures such as building structures at an early stage, but also to expand public relations and early warning systems.

The urban climate analysis was conducted by the City Department Urban planning, urban development and integration and by the Lade Text City Office Office of the Magistrate - Climate & Environment.. and prepared by Weatherpark GmbH in cooperation with the Institute for Climate and Energy Concepts (INKEK GmbH).

Last updated 02.12.2022