Climate response of alpine lakes and impacts on ecosystem services


  • Uta Schirpke Department of Ecology, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria; Institute for Alpine Environment, Eurac Research, Bozen/Bolzano, Italy
  • Manuel Ebner Department of Ecology, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria; Institute for Alpine Environment, Eurac Research, Bozen/Bolzano, Italy
  • Veronika Fontana Institute for Alpine Environment, Eurac Research, Bozen/Bolzano, Italy
  • Katharina Enigl Department for Climate-Impact- Research, GeoSphere, Vienna, Austria
  • Markus Ohndorf Department of Public Finance, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  • Hanna Pritsch Research Department for Limnology, University of Innsbruck, Mondsee, Austria
  • Rainer Kurmayer Research Department for Limnology, University of Innsbruck, Mondsee, Austria



global change, multi-criteria decision analysis, mountain lake, European Alps, Representative concentration pathways, nature conservation


Small alpine lakes are highly sensitive to global warming and human influence, which can affect the ecological integrity of these freshwaters. However, the response of lakes is variable and knowledge about potential impacts on related ecosystem services is insufficient. The project CLAIMES (Climate response of alpine lakes: Resistance variability and management consequences for ecosystem services) therefore aimed at assessing potential impacts on ecosystem services for 15 study lakes located in Niedere Tauern (Austria) and South Tyrol (Italy). In a first step, the lakes’ ecological variability was characterized based on limnological data and lake surface temperature modelling. Adopting a participatory approach, the most important ecosystem services were identified, and their importance was evaluated by local stakeholders. The prioritized ecosystem services were quantified using multiple indicators, and potential future impacts were assessed based on different possible worst-case scenarios. Our findings predict that global warming reduces ice cover duration affecting ecosystem functions and consequently the trophic state. Perceptions of local stakeholders were mostly consistent, but key ecosystem services depend on the regional context. Our results also indicate that the provision of ecosystem services by lakes is largely influenced by the local socio-ecological characteristics. The projected decline in ecosystem services in the future calls for better integration of alpine lake ecosystem services into decision- and policymaking across different governance levels.


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Title image LO.2023.1109


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How to Cite

Schirpke, U., Ebner, M., Fontana, V., Enigl, K., Ohndorf, M., Pritsch, H., & Kurmayer, R. (2023). Climate response of alpine lakes and impacts on ecosystem services. Landscape Online, 98, 1109.