The European skiing industry has to reckon with much less snow and much shorter seasons as a result of climate change. Skiing resorts are responding to the challenge by using snow cannons and employing innovative snow production technologies – a practice that environmentalists believe to be particularly harmful.
Today, the Alps serve 44 percent of global skiing tourism, but European mountain regions are suffering the impact of climate change. The average temperature of the Alps has increased at twice the global average rate over the last 120 years, by 2 degrees Celsius, while Alpine skiing season has become almost 40 days shorter on average between 1960 and 2017.
Ski resort operators primarily respond to the phenomenon by using classic snow cannons (which is not a very good solution from the environmental perspective), investing on the order of a hundred million euros a year in improving their snowmaking infrastructure.
While the trend is quite alarming in Europe, in other parts of the world, climate change is shaping the snow situation in another direction for the time being: over the next few decades, America and Japan may expect longer skiing seasons than before. In Colorado, for instance, ski lifts were still running in June and July. Longer-term forecasts, however, are not so favourable there, either: it is expected that by 2050, the duration of the skiing season will be half of what it is today at two-thirds of US ski resorts.
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