Climate: Austria's climate is predominantly temperate. In the Alps (with the exception of dry areas in the interior), in the Alpine foothill area and in the northwest (Mühlviertel region) it is influenced by the central European oceanic climate with humid winds, in the northeast, east and southeast (Waldviertel and Weinviertel regions, Vienna Basin, Burgenland, hills in eastern Styria, Klagenfurt Basin) by the pannonic and illyric continental climate, with scant precipitation, hot summers and cold winters, in the southernmost regions (Carinthia, East Tirol) by Mediterranean precipitation. The Alps form a barrier, which in the west is consistent with the central Alps, and in the east with the northern limestone Alps in winter, in summer with the ridge of the Niedere Tauern and the Eisenerzer Alpen mountain ranges. Precipitation decreases from the west to the east and usually increases with altitude ("Steigungsregen"/"ascending rain"). The areas with most precipitation (average annual mean precipitation 2,000-2,500 mm and more) are those bordering mountain ranges (northern and southern limestone Alps) and the ridge of the Hohe Tauern mountains, the areas with least precipitation (annual average below 600 mm) are the Seewinkel area in Burgenland, the northeast of the Vienna Basin and the Marchfeld region, as well as locally the Weinviertel and the central and northern Waldviertel regions, in particular the lower valley of the River Kamp. (300-400 mm). In January the highest amount of snow falls in the Alps below an altitude of 1,200 m, in higher regions most snow falls in March and April. The permanent snow line is at 2,700 m in the northern limestone Alps, at 2,900 m in the Hohe Tauern mountains and 3,000-3,100 m above sea level in the Ötztal Alps, that is about 100-200 m higher than 100 years ago. In closed-in basins, valleys and troughs below 1,200 m temperature inversion occurs frequently in winter (Inversion). But the places with the longest sunshine lie in these areas above this altitude, i.e. the Hungerburg terrace and the Seegrube near Innsbruck, the lower mountains in Tirol, the terraces around Aflenz, the Stolzalpe and the southern slopes of the lower mountains in Carinthia. The area around Lake Neusiedl and the central Waldviertel region are equally favoured with much sunshine (1,900-2,000 hours annually, as compared with Vienna's 1,838 hours, Zurich 1,760, Davos 1,814). The cold centres lie in the Lungau region (upper valley of River Mura, Tamsweg, St. Michael), in the middle of the Enns valley and in the Kamp valley south of Zwettl. Local and regional wind systems are of major importance in the Alps, in particular the Foehn, which has an unfavourable influence on the health of many people and a dehydrating effect. Precipitation tends to decrease in the dry areas in the northeast and east, in the Alps it is rather stable or tends to increase slightly; average temperatures are clearly rising, particularly in winter, in summer heat and dry periods appear to occur more often then formerly.
Literature: H. Nagl, Klima- und Wasserbilanztypen Österreichs (= Geographischer Jahresbericht aus Österreich XL, 1981), 1983; Österreich-Atlas, Karte der Klima-Typen (III/9), Bobek-Kuez-Zwittkovits, mit Erläuterungen; F. Zwittkovits, Klima-Typen, Klima-Bereiche, Klima-Facetten. Erläuterungen zur Klima-Typenkarte von Österreich, 1983.
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