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 ‘skiing’
“Alpine skiing” and “living green” do not seem compatible. Flat land skiers jet across the country, rent SUVs, and drive a few more hours to mountain homes or condominiums. While they sleep, snow guns blast a fresh layer of snow and legions of snow cats prepare thousands of acres of groom slopes. That’s a lot of greenhouse gas just to escape New Jersey for a week.
So how can an individual skier reduce the carbon emissions of this sport? (more…)
If you have background and interest in environmental and resource policy issues, the Rocky Mountain Institute offers three-month to one-year internships at their offices in Boulder, Colorado and Snowmass, Colorado.
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.
The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) release of an endangerment finding today states that “greenhouse gases in the atmosphere endanger the public health and welfare of current and future generations.” This EPA action was the result of a Supreme Court decision two years ago that ordered the agency to investigate the effects of carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. However, this EPA finding will not result in major regulation in the immediate future. Congress will likely enact their own green house gas (GHG) regulations that better reflects industry desires and politics of the day. Nevertheless, the EPA move does provide strong impetus to the ski industry—as well as other industries responsible for GHG emissions—to implement meaningful GHG emissions measures and controls.
The Associated Press reports a model of large-scale renewable energy production at Massachusetts’ Jimmy Peak Ski Resort. The installation of Jimmy’s 386-foot, $3.9 million turbine named “Zephyr” cut the resorts electricity costs by $200,000 last year — the first full year the turbine was operational. In contrast to simply buying renewable energy credits to offset greenhouse gas emissions, the turbine represents a green technology that can provide needed electrical power—and an immediate payoff. (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…)
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency sponsors the Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network to encourage networking, information exchange, and better access to assistance. This network consists of an even mix of over 3,000 individuals, non-profit organizations, businesses, local governments, educational institutions, and other organizations in Minnesota (and bordering areas) who are interested in moving toward sustainability. The site is Minnesota specific, but the network model and information posted there is certainly relevant to all with an interest in sustainability.
The Sustainable Ski Slopes page provides a nice summary of sustainability efforts within the ski industry, including the National Ski Areas Association’s Sustainable Slopes program, the Keep Winter Cool campaign, the Ski Area Citizens Coalition, as well as specific case studies and recommendations for ski area personnel.
Results of a poll of 12,000 citizens in 11 countries were released last week that suggest that there is both growing public reluctance to make personal sacrifices and a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the major international efforts now underway to battle climate change. (more…)