A study by two Colorado researchers says Aspen Mountain in Colorado and Park City in Utah will see dramatic changes even with a reduction in carbon emissions, which fuel climate change. University of Colorado-Boulder geography professor Mark Williams said that the resorts should be in fairly good shape the next 25 years, but after that there will be less snowpack–or no snow at all–at the base areas, and the season will be shorter because snow will accumulate later and melt earlier. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘science’
The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory finds that soot warms up the snow and the air above it by up to 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit, causing snow to melt. Soot from pollution causes winter snowpacks to warm, shrink and warm some more. The full report reveals regional changes to the snowpack caused by soot and finds doubling the dimming of the snow led to an approximate 50 percent increase in the snow surface temperature. The drop in snow accumulation, however, more than doubled in some areas.
Unfortunately for National Ski Areas Association members and service providers, the study did not address the measurement or impact of soot due to local vehicle traffic in mountain valley locations. Comparing cost impacts of local pollution levels on ski season length could help cost justify industry-wide transportation improvements.
Looking to learn more about climate change now that most of the lift-served terrain is closed for the season? A great place to start is this very readable report on climate change, “Understanding and Responding to Climate Change” by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. If you have a scientific background and want to read peer-reviewed work that is published in the scientific literature, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides in-depth reports that reflect a range of views, expertise and wide geographical coverage. IPCC materials aim to be neutral with respect to policy. In addition, the US Environmental Protection Agency has a State of Climate Change Knowledge web page and the US Global Change Research Program created by Congress in 1990 has an on-line climate change library.
In an effort to accurately and comprehensively manage its emissions, Grand Targhee Resort elected to voluntarily report its emissions inventory with The Climate Registry, a voluntary greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting program. According to a March 26 press release, Grand Targhee is very concerned about climate change and is “interested in opportunities to engage hundreds of thousands of winter sports enthusiasts each year through education and example.” Known for a reliable snow pack (500 inch annual snowfall), Grand Targhee certainly has a lot to protect.
The Climate Registry is a nonprofit collaboration among North American states, provinces, territories and Native Sovereign Nations that sets consistent and transparent standards to calculate, verify and publicly report greenhouse gas emissions into a single registry. Christina Thomure, Director of Sustainable Operations at Grand Targhee Resort reported that The Climate Registry’s protocol for measuring greenhouse gases “ensures a level of accuracy and transparency that far exceeds all other tools we evaluated.” Notably, the Registry requires annual third party verification and is widely viewed as the premier GHG registry in North America.
Be sure to check out the “other” skigreen website sponsored by CLIF® BAR and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF). Along with your ideas on how to ski green, they are looking for your personal stories and photos. The skigreen.org site sponsors the Skigreen Carborn Offset Program. While this program does not help “green” the local ski area, it provides individual skiers an easy way to offset the pollution they create driving up to the ski area. Mini-Carbon Offsets are two dollars and can be purchased at the ticket window with daily lift passes or with season pass sales. Anyone else smell like greenwash here? I do. (more…)
What does the economic downturn mean for skiing? Love your locals. While you might see miles of empty condos in Vail or Big Sky this year, some smaller resorts located nearer to a population base are enjoying record numbers. High-priced trips to destination resorts are out. Daily or weekend trips to resorts closer to home are in. And, as always, deep snow can trump location and the economy. (more…)
What does climate change mean for the Northwestern portion of the United States? An in-depth report from the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington provides some grim answers to that question. Among the “highest confidence” predictions for this region include: warmer temperature throughout the year, decreased summer water supply, and increased probability of drought. Skier translation: more rain and less snow in the winter. But perhaps the most surprising finding is the speed of change. The authors point out significant impacts in just the next ten years: (more…)