Ski holidays threatened by global warmingClimate change could decimate the slopes

14 February 2007

 

Snow-covered chalets

The traditional ski holiday could become a thing of the past as climate change looks set to decimate the slopes, it was claimed today.

In just 23 years the Alps could see such a drastic drop in snow cover with the number of its resorts with good quality skiing and boarding slashed by up to 40 per cent.

These resorts could find themselves battling economic hardship or bankruptcy while Whistler in Canada, with a base station at 675 metres above sea level, could find itself redundant as a winter sports destination.

The bleak picture of the winter holiday in 2030 is painted by Professor Bill McGuire at London's Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre in a report commissioned by Halifax Travel Insurance.

Winter holidays

He said: ‘Increasing global temperatures by 2030 could have a devastating impact on the winter holiday industry.

‘Those lucky enough to afford skiing in the restricted winter resort environments of 2030 will face increased risk from severe weather phenomena and unpredictable conditions.

‘Unless urgent action is taken to combat the effects of climate change, the family skiing holiday could be consigned to the annals of history in less than a quarter of a century.’

He warns that winter sports enthusiasts may face higher risk from avalanches, whiteouts, rock falls and landslides.

There will be unpredictable huge dumps of snow despite decreasing overall snow cover, it is suggested.

Extreme weather

A double whammy of reduced snowfall and increased extreme weather conditions in alpine regions will drastically cut the number of winter sports resorts while making it more expensive to visit them.

The report claims the snowline in the Alps could rise by as much as 300m by 2030, leaving just 60 per cent of resorts with reliable good skiing.

But North American resorts at high altitudes could benefit from the Alps demise as a premier skiing destination.

Most American Rocky Mountain resorts have very high base-stations and are less likely than European resorts to be affected by elevated snow lines.

Resorts such as Breckenridge, Vail, Aspen, Lake Tahoe, Jackson Hole and Mammoth in the United States could find Europeans flocking to their slopes as the global climate changes, it was suggested.

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