Impacts of Climate Change on Australian Alps’ Ski Industry
The changing nature of snow cover as a result of climate change is a modern phenomenon that climate scientists are beginning to understand. The negative impact of climate change on snow cover has serious implications for the Australian alpine ski industry, in particular the longevity of the industry. This essay discusses the impacts of climate change on snow cover and the alpine landscape, social attitudes, changes in the ski industry’s economy, as well challenges and adaptations facing the ski industry. The essay highlights the danger of short-term solutions resulting in permanent damage to our environment.
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Hence, the increased solar radiation increases melting rates of fresh snow (fine snow grains) that prevents old snow from melting. Consequently, the albedo of snow decreases with increased area covered by coarse snow grains (old snow) (Thompson, 2012).
The melting of old snow is significant to the snow cover in the alps as there is no permafrost in the Australian alps, and the decreased reflectivity results in increased temperatures in snow-cover areas. Thompson (2011) supports Pickering’s (2010) theory of the link between snow albedo and atmospheric temperatures, with lower albedo contributing to an increased atmospheric temperature over snow-cover areas. Hence, it can be concluded from the above analysis that the decline in fresh snow reveals old snow, resulting in a faster rate of run off due to lower reflectivity. The cascading effect of increased temperatures as a result of climate change will continue to deepen. Consequently, the action that the ski industry take to adapt to climate change will determine the industry’s future status.
Challenges and adaptions of the ski industry
To address the challenges of declining snow cover and snow season, the ski industry can adopt two main approaches. First, to increase production of artificial snow through snow making. Secondly, reverting to summer tourism as a means to balance out the decline in winter activities. Summer tourism, dated back to 1840 with the discovery of Mt Kosciusko, is growing in interest from tourists. However, it is largely unexplored by the ski industry and remains a secondary option to snowmaking. Snow making is one of the many ways the ski industry can directly intervene with the effects of climate change.
To minimise the effect of declining snow cover on skiers, the ski industry have prolonged snow season through attempts at snow making. Snowmaking is “a vital enterprise to the survival of the ski industry” (Z. Tonkovic and S. Jeffcoat, p. 302, 2002). Snowmaking relies on a consistent supply of water, power and appropriate climatic conditions to manufacture artificial snow. However, the decline in water and power supplies with climate change will not advance the case for snowmaking. Furthermore, due to the unique properties of snow, artificial snow can only be formed when water is blasted into an atmospheric temperature of .. () and needs to settle as crystallised snow flake with low grain for the maximum contribution to the ski slopes. Currently, the rate of snowmaking is inadequate as a substitute to natural snow, contributing only … to the total snow depth (See Figure BLAH). Despite the data being dates back to a decade ago, Pickering (2010) identifies the pattern of the data to be parallel with current snow depth results. Negative impacts of climate change such as inconsistent climate conditions and decreasing snow cover have contributed to the growing competition between ski resorts for business (). Consequently, considerable expenditure and effort have been...