Ski Industry Feeling the Pressure of Climate Change

Early in the current season, skiers are taking note of a snow shortage, balmy temperatures, and patches of brown spotting their favorite ski runs. Warm weather and skimpy snowfall are shortening the ski season and creating serious financial complications for the ski industry. Scientists from around the world point to global warming, or climate change, as the reason. Ski resorts in low elevations may become a thing of the past sooner rather than later.

From New England to the Rockies in the United States, ski resorts are struggling to maintain the ski season – and their economic bottom lines. When it comes to climate change, the ski industry is ahead of the curve, noting the change almost 30 years ago.

More than a billion dollars in revenue have been lost between 2000 and 2010, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Protect Our Winters. Those employed in the ski industry have plenty of reason for concern, too. It is estimated that 27,000 ski industry jobs have been lost in the last 10 years.

Researchers say that as early as 2039, only about half of the Northeast’s ski areas will be able to hang on to the standard 100-day ski season, the minimum number of days generally considered necessary for a resort to be economically viable.

For some resorts, making snow is simply too expensive a proposition over the long term and in some areas, simply finding enough water to make snow is an ongoing problem.

Skiers who live near resorts are apt to consider other vacation options when snow is not visible, but resorts aren’t giving up that easily. They’re offering other activities to attract visitors. It is no longer unusual to find yoga, water parks, spas, or even golf areas at a ski resort.

Ever-shorter seasons, lack of resources, and unreliable snowfall are threatening the very existence of ski resorts in the U.S. and around the globe.

While they may be particularly vulnerable to climate change, die-hard skiers are an optimistic breed. There’s always that freak snowstorm to look forward to.

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