January 7, 2009

Aspen & Park City: what Global Warming will do to Ski Industry.

On the bright side, Dubai’s ski resort (above) will be unaffected. 

On the dark side…

[Excerpt from by Tony Hake, Denver Weather Examiner]

Aspen Mountain and the Park City Mountain Resortwarns that Colorado’s ski industry faces a grave threat from global warming.  According to the authors, a warming globe will at best force ski areas to move to higher altitudes to reach snow and at worst, will find themselves out of business due to no snow at all. 


Authored by University of Colorado at Boulder geography Professor Mark Williams and Brian Lazar of Stratus Consulting Inc. of Boulder, the study was recently presented to the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco.  Mr. Williams said, “Ski resort operators are really scrambling.  The bottom line is that in order to survive, these ski areas will need to find the necessary water wherever they can and hold it in storage to satisfy future snowmaking needs.”

Assuming the future rate of CO2 continues at its current pace, temperature increases of 4 degrees by 2030 and 8.6 degrees by 2100 are forecast for Aspen.  By the end of the century the authors expect this to cause the snowpack line – the elevation at which winter-season snowpack can be assured — will be 2,400 vertical feet higher up. This means ski lifts will need to be revamped and lengthened to reach higher up the mountains and a source of water for increased snowmaking capacity will need to be found as will a place to store it. 

The study says Aspen may need to triple its snowmaking ability in the decades to come but getting all of that water to make that even possible then becomes a big question mark.  We all know water is gold in our state…

…While the study focused on Aspen Mountain, similar – or worse – effects could be expected at ski areas across the state of Colorado.  Areas of the nation that have shorter and less extraordinary ski seasons could find themselves out of business entirely.  In the western part of the United States, ski areas in California’s Sierra Nevada range and the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington are endangered.  Out east, skiers in Pennsylvania and West Virginia…

Read the rest at the Examiner.

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