US ski industry has limited options for adaptation

The ski industry in the United States, worth over $10 billion and vital to thirty-seven states, is being threatened by climate change due to rising snowlines, earlier spring melt, and more winter precipitation falling as rain. The industry has limited direct options for adaptation. Artificial snowmaking can be used but it is energy-intensive, water-demanding, has high upfront cost, and limited by warming winter temperatures and, in certain basins, access to water in the next few decades.

In order to better plan future investments in snowmaking equipment and other adaptations, climate projections are needed at a sub-regional scale. However, uncertainty and assumptions increase when downscaling from global climate models. Downscaling with Multivariate Adaptive Constructed Analogues couples climate variables and is capable of accounting for complex terrain, and therefore offers the best projections for natural snow coverage and snowmaking viability by mid-century

Source: Nichols and Frazier (April 2015). Opportunities and Limitations for Assessing Ski Area Vulnerability and Potential Low-Snow Adaptation Strategies in the Changing Climate. Western Snow Conference.


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