21 June 2024
Climate change: Skiing's future uncertain

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Climate change is threatening the future of skiing. Over the last months, there have been protests against plans for new cable cars and doubts over whether to hold pre-season sporting events due to scarce snow. The partial destruction of the Théodule glacier in Switzerland has also raised concerns. The question of what the future holds for skiing on an overheating planet is a pressing one.

Climate Change, Skiing, and the Future



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Published on: November 12, 2021 Description: Outdoor sports in the future could be much different because of climate change, especially at ski resorts. More local videos here: ...
How will the future of ski resorts be impacted by climate change?
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In recent years, the world of winter sports has been facing unprecedented challenges due to climate change. From the occupation of glaciers by activists protesting against new cable car projects to the partial destruction of glaciers due to rising temperatures, the question of the future of skiing on our planet has become more pressing than ever.

Climate Change’s Impact on Ski Resorts

Our study, published in Nature Climate Change, analyzed the impact of global warming on 2,234 winter sports resorts in Europe. The results are alarming: at 2°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels, 53% of European resorts are at very high risk of low snowfall. This risk varies across regions, with the French Alps being less affected than the Pyrenees or the Franco-Swiss mid-mountain massifs.

At 4°C of global warming, the situation becomes even more dire, with 98% of European resorts facing a very high risk of low snowfall. This level of warming leaves little room for adaptation and threatens the very existence of winter sports resorts.

Snowmaking as a Potential Solution for the Future of Skiing

One of the most popular solutions to adapt to scarcer snow is snowmaking, also known as artificial snow. Snowmaking involves projecting micro-droplets of water into the atmosphere so that they freeze before falling back to the ground. The resulting snow, made up of small balls of ice, is a suitable material for making an underlay.

However, snowmaking is not without its challenges. It requires sufficiently cold weather conditions, and its effectiveness decreases as temperatures rise. Additionally, snowmaking is energy-intensive and can have a negative impact on the environment.

Environmental Impact of Snowmaking

Our study also assessed the environmental impact of snowmaking. We found that snow production can increase the total precipitation on ski slopes by 8% to 25%, depending on the country and the level of warming. This can lead to water scarcity issues, especially in regions where water resources are already limited.

Snowmaking also has a carbon footprint due to the electricity used to power the snowmaking machines. While the carbon footprint of snowmaking is relatively small compared to other aspects of winter tourism, such as transportation and accommodation, it is still a factor that needs to be considered.

The Future of Skiing: Adaptation and Decarbonization

The future of skiing depends on our ability to adapt to climate change and decarbonize the tourism sector. This means investing in energy-efficient snowmaking technologies, promoting sustainable transportation options, and reducing the carbon footprint of accommodation and other tourist services.

It also means diversifying the activities offered by ski resorts to make them less dependent on snow. This could include hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities that can be enjoyed year-round.

The challenges facing the ski industry are significant, but they are not insurmountable. With a concerted effort from governments, businesses, and individuals, we can ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the joys of winter sports while minimizing the impact on the environment.

FAQ’s

1. How does climate change affect ski resorts?

Climate change leads to rising temperatures, which results in less snowfall and shorter ski seasons. A study published in Nature Climate Change found that at 2°C of global warming, 53% of European ski resorts are at very high risk of low snowfall. At 4°C of global warming, this risk increases to 98%.

2. What is snowmaking, and how can it help ski resorts adapt to climate change?

Snowmaking is a process of artificially creating snow by projecting micro-droplets of water into the atmosphere, where they freeze before falling back to the ground. Snowmaking can help ski resorts extend their seasons and compensate for the lack of natural snowfall. However, it requires sufficiently cold weather conditions and is energy-intensive, which can have a negative impact on the environment.

3. What are the environmental impacts of snowmaking?

Snowmaking can increase the total precipitation on ski slopes by 8% to 25%, depending on the country and the level of warming. This can lead to water scarcity issues, especially in regions where water resources are already limited. Additionally, snowmaking has a carbon footprint due to the electricity used to power the snowmaking machines.

4. What can be done to ensure the future of skiing?

The future of skiing depends on our ability to adapt to climate change and decarbonize the tourism sector. This means investing in energy-efficient snowmaking technologies, promoting sustainable transportation options, and reducing the carbon footprint of accommodation and other tourist services. It also means diversifying the activities offered by ski resorts to make them less dependent on snow.

5. What role can individuals play in protecting the future of skiing?

Individuals can help protect the future of skiing by choosing ski resorts that are committed to sustainability, reducing their carbon footprint while traveling to and from ski resorts, and supporting organizations that are working to address climate change.

Links to additional Resources:

1. https://www.ipcc.ch/ 2. https://www.unep.org/ 3. https://www.wmo.int/

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Skiing, Snowmaking, Climate change

Skiing
Skiing is the use of skis to glide on snow. Variations of purpose include basic transport, a recreational activity, or a competitive winter sport. Many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS).
Read more: Skiing

Snowmaking
Snowmaking is the production of snow by forcing water and pressurized air through a "snow gun", also known as a "snow cannon". Snowmaking is mainly used at ski resorts to supplement natural snow. This allows ski resorts to improve the reliability of their snow cover and to extend their ski...
Read more: Snowmaking

Climate change
In common usage, climate change describes global warming—the ongoing increase in global average temperature—and its effects on Earth's climate system. Climate change in a broader sense also includes previous long-term changes to Earth's climate. The current rise in global average temperature is primarily caused by humans burning fossil fuels since...
Read more: Climate change

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