Microclimate in Climate Change
Refuges and Hotspots in the Bavarian National Parks




Project start: 01.12.2022

Duration: 3 years

Funding: Bavarian State Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection (StMUV)

Project lead: Prof. Dr. Rupert Seidl, Berchtesgaden National Park Administration

Involved scientists: Harald Kunstmann, Simon Zitzmann (Universität Augsburg), Benjamin Fersch (KIT Campus Alpin – IMK-IFU)

Project partners: Berchtesgaden National Park Administration, Technical University Munich, University of Innsbruck



The MiKRoNP 2022/25 project is addressing the effects of climate change on the environment of the Bavarian National Parks. These protected areas serve as open-air laboratories to study natural processes without human intervention. The aim is to investigate the local effects of climate change, as these are not evenly distributed and may deviate from global trends.

For example, temperature patterns in the Alps differ from the global trend. The effects of global warming are particularly apparent in mountain regions, for example in glacier retreat or in the shift of elevational boundaries, e.g., the tree line. Previous work in the Berchtesgaden National Park has shown that micrometeorological and snow hydrological processes in the forest only partially follow the large-scale trends of global warming. The phenomenon of Elevation Dependent Warming (EDW), i.e., a tendency toward increased warming at high elevations relative to low elevations, and the spatial pattern of the energy balance are not yet fully understood.

Therefore, the project will investigate the multiple local effects that lead to the observed deviations from the large-scale warming trend. Climate-resilient refuges and climate-sensitive hotspots, i.e., the deviations of meteorological conditions from the large-scale trend, and the consequent effects on the ecosystem processes will be investigated. The spatial focus is on the local to regional scale.


Kickoff meeting of the project at the Haus der Berge in Berchtesgaden in January 2023. Photo: Kunstmann

The research is based on the usage of the excellent data basis in the Bavarian National Parks, for example the climate measurement network in the Berchtesgaden National Park. The joint research work is divided into the subprojects Energy (University of Augsburg), Snow (University of Innsbruck) and Springs (Technical University of Munich) according to the contributions of the project partners. The subproject Energy investigates the energy balance and identifies possible heat sinks in the national park area. The subproject Snow models the micrometeorological conditions and snow hydrological processes in the forests of the national parks to analyze the differences in hydrological impacts compared to the open landscape. The subproject Springs investigates the local runoff pattern and its impact on the spring ecosystem in different micrometeorological site conditions in the national park area.

Overall, the project is expected to contribute to a better understanding of local climate change impacts. The results will support the development of climate adaptation strategies based on the local effects of climate change.