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From the Tetons to the Tien Shan, global snow cover and glaciers are in a state of long-term decline. Snowpack has been retreating at unprecedented rates over the last 100 years, with the overall quantity of earth’s frozen places, or the “cryosphere,” diminishing.

IPCC - AR5 Snow CoverClimate change means shorter ski seasons, higher snow levels, and more occurrences of warm weather during the winter (see figure, from IPCC 2014). It also means greater frequencies of dangerous avalanches and floods. We are already seeing these effects from a rise of 0.85Cº (1880-2012), and Earth is now on track for warming in excess of 4Cº.

Climate change also create impacts that aren’t well understood. For example, there is evidence that it may alter the location of atmospheric “ridges” and then diverts storm tracks–such as could be the case with the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge that is prolonging the drought in California.

For the best single primer on climate science and skiing, see the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report (2014), summarized in the blog post, Cryosphere decline continues, Northern Hemisphere snow and glacier loss accelerates: IPCC.

About this blog

This blog inventories studies and news about skiing and climate change, updated occasionally.

Ryan Schuchard

Updated August 2015

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