Entertainment · June 21, 2022

Snow days in the Alps ‘will be HALVED without faster action to mitigate climate change’

The number of snowy days in the Alps will halve without faster action to mitigate climate change, a new study warns.

Researchers said that without emissions cuts, southern Alpine countries, including parts of France, Italy and Slovenia, would be particularly hard hit.

For example, if the planet warmed by 7.2-9°F (4-5°C), Slovenia could lose 54 days of snow per year – 68 percent – at an altitude of 4,920 feet (1,500 m), while France could lose will be 116 days of snow at 3,500 m (11,480 feet), or 34 percent of snow days.

But if the Paris Agreement’s emissions targets were met, it would save 80 percent of today’s snow cover days, the experts said.

They added that the loss of snow would affect the ski industry, nature and water use downwards, as well as itself leading to further warming.

The number of snowy days in the Alps will halve without faster action to mitigate climate change, a new study warns. Pictured is Steisee, Canton of Bern

SNOW DAYS (d) LOST TO GLOBAL WARMING 1.5-2°C
country 500m 1500m 2500m 3500m
Austria -7 days (-21%) -17 days (-16%) -25 days (-10%) -37 days (-10%)
Bosnia and Herzegovina -8 days (-27%) -24 days (-29%) N / A N / A
Croatia -5 days (-28%) -26 days (-30%) N / A N / A
France -2 days (-25%) -16 days (-20%) -26 days (-12%) -44 days (-13%)
Germany -9 days (-25%) -22 days (-19%) -33 days (-14%) N / A
Italy -3 days (-26%) -15 days (-19%) -26 days (-11%) -45 days (-13%)
Slovenia -6 days (-26%) -23 days (-28%) -31 days (-13%) N / A
Switzerland -5 days (-22%) -18 days (-15%) -27 days (-11%) -57 days (-16%)

lead author dr Michael Matiu of Eurac Research in Italy said: “I expected a reduction in snow cover, but the changes found in this paper under a strong warming scenario – 4-5°C – are very large.

“On the other hand, there is a lot of scope for potential savings if warming is limited under the Paris Agreement – which raises hope.”

Nor would the northern Alpine countries be spared without action, with Germany having 27 days of snow (79 percent of current snow days) at 1,640 feet (500 m), 57 days or 49 percent at 4,920 feet (1,500 m) and 78 days (32 percent) at 2,500 m (8,200 feet), according to the study.

In a Slippery Slopes report published earlier this year on the impact of climate change on winter sports, Olympic freestyle skier Philippe Marquis spoke about the dangerous effects of a warming climate on winter sports in the mountains.

He said, “We’re seeing more slides (rock, ice, snow), new crevasses, the skiable terrain is getting smaller, and the window of opportunity to ski on these high-altitude glaciers is getting shorter.”

Low-lying ski resorts in the Alps are already struggling to stay open for a 100-day ski season due to global warming so far, and many are resorting to artificial snowmaking to keep going.

In the Italian Alps alone, around 200 resorts have already had to close due to the warming climate.

Researchers said that without emissions cuts, southern Alpine countries, including parts of France, Italy and Slovenia, would be particularly hard hit.  Mountains at 8,200 feet (2,500 m), for example, would lose almost three months of snow per year with high emissions

Researchers said that without emissions cuts, southern Alpine countries, including parts of France, Italy and Slovenia, would be particularly hard hit. Mountains at 8,200 feet (2,500 m), for example, would lose almost three months of snow per year with high emissions

SNOW DAYS (d) LOST TO GLOBAL WARMING 4-5°C
country 500m 1500m 2500m 3500m
Austria -24 days (-71%) -46 days (-42%) -64 days (-26%) -97 days (-27%)
Bosnia and Herzegovina -21 days (-70%) -54 days (-64%) N / A N / A
Croatia -13 days (-74%) -55 days (-62%) N / A N / A
France -6 days (-77%) -42 days (-53%) -82 days (-36%) -116 days (-34%)
Germany -27 days (-79%) -57 days (-49%) -78 days (-32%) N / A
Italy -7 days (-76%) -43 days (-57%) -88 days (-38%) -111 days (-32%)
Slovenia -17 days (-77%) -54 days (-68%) -94 days (-41%) N / A
Switzerland -17 days (-71%) -48 days (-39%) -66 days (-26%) -112 days (-32%)

dr Matiu said that while skiing could possibly continue in some places due to snow machines, “ski resorts have to defend high energy and water consumption – especially in times of water shortages”.

Scientists say the planet has warmed by 1.2°C (2.16°F) so far due to human activity, and swift and concerted action is being taken to meet the Paris Agreement target, “well below” 3 .6°F (2°C) to stay.

dr Martina Barandun, glaciologist at EURAC Italy, who was not involved in this study, said: “Ski resorts are beginning to respond to the ongoing changes with artificial snow, trying to cover glacial ice to ensure access between ski lifts and ski slopes.

“These rather short-term solutions are cost-intensive and eventually no longer pay off.

“Ski areas at lower altitudes and on the edges of the Alps are likely to disappear… I believe this is unsustainable in the long term, despite advances in technology it will be very difficult to maintain ski conditions over the next 100 years. ‘

Large amounts of energy and water are used to make artificial snow, and the pesticides, salts, and fertilizers used to form the snow can cause environmental damage.

Nor would the northern Alpine countries be spared from measures, with Germany having 27 days of snow (79 percent of current snow days) at 1,640 ft (500 m), 57 days or 49 percent at 1,500 ft and 78 days (32 percent) at 8,200 ft ( 2,500 m), according to the study

Nor would the northern Alpine countries be spared from measures, with Germany having 27 days of snow (79 percent of current snow days) at 1,640 ft (500 m), 57 days or 49 percent at 1,500 ft and 78 days (32 percent) at 8,200 ft ( 2,500 m), according to the study

Although artificial snow is now widely used in the ski industry, it also melts under temperatures of 0-3 ° C, depending on the humidity.

Olympic freestyle skier Laura Donaldson warned that warmer temperatures and artificial snow can also lead to more dangerous conditions for winter sports enthusiasts.

The scientists found that the number of snow days lost varies with altitude.

Mountains at 8,200 feet (2,500 m), for example, would lose nearly three months of snow per year with high emissions.

But if they are cut in line with the Paris Agreement and global warming is limited to 2.7-3.6°F (1.5-2°C), less than a month would be lost.

At an altitude of 500 m, snow days could almost be quartered. If emissions are high, 14 days would be lost, leaving just five days of snow a year, but researchers said reducing emissions could save 10 days of snow.

dr Barandun said, “Seeing all these changes and knowing that they will intensify in the future makes me concerned and saddened by the environmental changes ahead.”

The new study was published in the journal Hydrology and Earth Sciences.

HOW DOES GLOBAL WARMING AFFECT GLACIAL RETREAT?

Global warming is causing temperatures to rise around the world.

This is particularly pronounced at latitudes closer to the poles.

Rising temperatures, permafrost, glaciers and ice sheets are all struggling to remain intact in the face of warmer climates.

As temperatures have risen more than a degree above pre-industrial levels, the ice continues to melt.

For example, melting ice on the Greenland ice sheet creates “meltwater lakes”, which then further contribute to melting.

This positive feedback loop is also found on glaciers on mountains.

Many of these have been frozen since the last Ice Age and researchers are seeing a significant retreat.

Some animal and plant species rely heavily on the cold that glaciers provide and migrate to higher elevations to find suitable habitat.

This puts a heavy strain on ecosystems as more and more animals and species live in an ever-shrinking region.

In addition to environmental pressures, the lack of ice on the mountains greatly increases the risk of landslides and volcanic eruptions.

The phenomenon is found in several mountain ranges around the world.

It has also been seen in regions of Antarctica.