Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Meltdown – How Climate Change Will Affect Skiing

Rating ***

By: Patrick Crawford

“Every spring, when winter loosens its grip on the base of Arapahoe Basin, the parking lot of North America’s highest ski area turns into what locals call “the beach.”

Nothing scares skiers and the ski industry more than global warming. Evidence of this global phenomenon is clearly seen in the peaks of Colorado, where huge rises in temperature have been affecting the mountains and their communities. According to 2001 studies, there could be an average 8 degrees Fahrenheit skyrocket in heat in the next century. A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that the average global temperature went up more than 1 degree in the last century worldwide. Higher temperatures increases have been recorded in the Rocky Mountains, and this shows that the temperature has been gaining exponentially, rising at a rate higher than the year before. In less than 60 years, the projected decline the Colorado snowpack will be 30%. By 2100, the Hadley Climate Center model predicts that the California snowpack will only have 10% of the snow it has today. Winter weather starts later and end earlier, and spring runoff in streams across western North America is happening 10-30 days earlier than it was in the 1940’s. The frightening list of stats goes on and on, and they all point to the man made effect of global warming. Auden Schendler of the Aspen Skiing Company commented that you actually see warming more during the night than the day. This will be devastating to snowmaking, because that’s when artificial snow is often made, since the hill has nobody on it. Being written in 2006, this articles statistics have already began to take place in drastic measures.

Being an avid skier myself, seeing the massive effects seemingly slight variations in the temperature have are very disturbing. I may never get the chance to truly ski some of the best ski resorts in North America, or the world for that matter, if these weather patterns continue the way they are. We can only hope that the melting stops or at least slows down, if we want to keep our options open for alpine activities in the next century.

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