Wednesday, 17 January 2007: 9:30 AM
Effects of past and future climate change on ski areas
214B (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
A prominent consequence of a warming climate is a reduction in mountain snow, especially at elevations close to the altitude of the 0°C isotherm. While there is general recognition that continued warming poses a threat to the ski industry, enough to motivate some resorts to take action on greenhouse gas emissions under the campaign “Keep Winter Cool”, the details of the threat have not been adequately determined. We take a closer look at the risks to certain ski areas, combining for the first time (1) actual observations of snow depth during the ski season in the 20th century and their trends and relationship to temperature and precipitation; (2) simulations at each ski area of snow depth over a range of elevations relevant to the skiability, using a state-of-the-art hydrology model; (3) operational considerations and constraints of the ski areas, for example the minimum snow depth needed to open the resort and the disproportionate effects of revenue loss during key times of year; and (4) consideration of the economic viability of snowmaking as an adaptation option. We use these observations and simulations to project future changes in skiability of these resorts.