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Less snow in winter threatens ski resorts, alpine species and water supplies

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Less snow in winter threatens ski resorts, alpine species and water supplies

Up to an eighth of ski resorts around the world may be short of natural snow by the end of this century due to climate change. This is according to a German scientific report published last week.

“Climate change is significantly changing the typical patterns of natural snowfall. This causes severe but diverse consequences for ski resorts around the world,” said Veronika Mitterwallner from the Department of Sport Ecology at the University of Bayreuth.

Snow resorts face changes

“It expects all ski areas to experience a substantial decrease in the number of days with natural snow under every estimated emissions scenario,” said Mitterwallner, who led research on snow cover in seven major mountain regions popular with winter sports enthusiasts.

Snow loss is particularly noticeable at lower elevations, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The ski tourism industry will have to react and will probably move to higher altitudes, which will probably have deadly consequences for alpine plants and animals.

Many ski resorts are struggling with the economic impact of the move, although some may resort to using artificial snow, according to the study.

At the same time, new roads and other infrastructure will need to be built to open up areas away from densely populated areas, which will have an additional impact on natural resources.

It will probably have a particularly serious impact on alpine species, which are already endangered. The study also prompted academics to reinforce the urgent need to address climate change, brings closer ABC News portal.

“To be honest, I’m not surprised by the findings of this report,” said climatologist and Australian National University professor Janette Lindesay. “There is no doubt that we are heading for an even warmer future.”

Less snow means less water

The problem with the decreasing amount of snow covered even at the beginning of this year, the CNN portal. He reminded that the loss is a huge problem for municipalities that depend on snow. Many of the world’s water supplies are already threatened by climate change due to droughts and heat waves that are becoming more frequent and intense.

As the planet continues to warm, many densely populated areas that depend on snow will experience increased losses in water availability in the coming decades.

“When the regime changes to one where you no longer have snow in the winter, but rain instead, you can have reservoirs half full or less,” Justin Mankin, an associate professor of geography at Dartmouth, told CNN at the time.

“Most of the world’s people live in river basins that are in a precipice where the fall off the cliff of snow loss is accelerating, with each additional degree of warming meaning greater and greater loss of snowpack,” Mankin said.

The study focused on the effects of climate change on annual natural snow cover in seven areas with high levels of skiing activity – the Alps in Europe, the Andes, the Appalachian Mountains and the Rockies in the American continent, the Australian Alps, the Japanese Alps and the New Zealand Alps.

Approximately 69 percent of the analyzed areas are located in the European Alps, which are the world’s largest ski market.

Scenarios for the future of centers

According to the study, 13 percent of ski resorts may lose their natural snow cover completely by the end of the century, assuming that greenhouse gas emissions are high, which will have a greater impact on climate change.

By the end of this century, about 20 percent won’t have even half the number of days with full snow than in history.

High emissions referred to one of three climate change scenarios based on the Shared Socio-economic Pathways model presented in the study, along with “low” and “very high” emissions.

Mitterwallner told ABC News that her team focused on the “high emissions” forecast when summarizing their findings because they considered it the most up-to-date and realistic of the three scenarios.

Still, the study found that the number of snow days per year in all seven “major downhill mountain areas globally will decrease significantly” under all three scenarios.

Professor Lindesay said there was a need to step up efforts to combat climate change and reduce potential damage to the alpine environment.

“The scenarios are actually stories … they take into account possible future carbon dioxide emissions, socio-economic circumstances, population growth and possible policy responses to global warming,” she said.

“The best thing we can do is to reduce emissions to net zero as quickly as possible.”

The TASR article was authored by Sofia Martinkov√°. The text was created as part of the World Between the Lines program, which is implemented in cooperation with HN by the non-profit organization Human in Danger and the Department of Journalism at the Comenius University Faculty of Arts. The program is co-financed by SlovakAid.

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