Hydrology

Water shapes the character of landscapes and natural ecosystems. It is a significant basic need for the population and for numerous economic sectors in Switzerland. Hydrological data allow observation of the water balance.

A FOEN hydrometric station in the Verzasca
A FOEN hydrometric station in the Verzasca near Lavertezzo, Campioi
© FOEN

Summary

The federal government studies Switzerland’s hydrological balance using various monitoring networks: MeteoSwiss measures the precipitation. The WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF measures the snow quantities. Several universities measure the glaciers. The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) ascertains the water supply and water quality of the most important Swiss rivers and lakes with long-term measurements at fixed stations. All of these data serve to monitor the water. They are used for water body protection, water use and flood control.

The long-term hydrological data series are available as bases for further utilization. The federal government however also uses it for its own evaluations, maps, and publications (hydrological forecasts, Hydrological Yearbook of Switzerland, Hydrological Atlas of Switzerland HADES and others). Increasingly, they are also used electronically and are made available via internet portals. In addition, the water supply and water quality data of the Swiss water bodies also flows into the national and international environmental reporting. Because Switzerland is considered the “water tower” of Europe, the Swiss water balance also interests neighboring countries.

Who is who

The federal government studies Switzerland’s hydrological balance using various monitoring networks: MeteoSwiss measures the precipitation. The WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF measures the snow quantities. Various universities measure the glaciers. The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) ascertains the water supply and water quality of the most important Swiss rivers and lakes with long-term measurements at fixed stations.

The federal government lays down the legal framework for the protection of the water bodies. The cantons are responsible for the implementation. The Federal Office for the Environment is the responsible competence center for hydrological tasks.

The Swiss Hydrological Commission (CHy) of the Swiss National Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) is the professional association of representatives from science, practice and authorities that are active in the field of hydrology. The portal “Water” is a product of the CHy.

Data

Hydrology: Data

The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) as well as geodata portals of the cantons and the federal government provide access to hydrological data. For the searching such data, geocat.ch provides an ideal entry point. Reports and clarifications on hydrological topics are available from the FOEN.


Water

Contact

Department of Hydrology (FOEN)
E-Mail
Departement of Water (FOEN)
E-Mail

Hydrological gauging stations / River basins