Skiing and snowboarding are sports adored by many, especially people who live in northern states like Vermont and New Hampshire.
Those who participate in these sports don’t shy away from snow or cold weather, but welcome it, as with snow comes the season they’re excited for.
But the earth is changing. Ice caps are melting, sea levels are going up and the climate is getting warmer.
With climate change upon us, the abundance of snow that thousands of people look forward to every winter, might not be a reality in the future.
According to KSC Professor of Environmental Studies Timothy Allen, climate change has been happening over the past 100 years, and there’s scientific evidence to prove it.
Glaciers, sea level, tree rings and oxygen isotopes are all proof of temperature adjustment over time, and they all point to climate change.
The temperature of the earth is rising, which can have a huge effect on ski resorts and businesses.
“Ski resorts require two criteria to stay in business.” said Allen.
These criteria include the likelihood of snow between Christmas and New Years and the likelihood of being able to stay open for at least 100 days out of the season.
Climate change is affecting resorts’ ability to meet these criteria, and it’s hurting the ski industry.
Granite Gorge, located in Roxbury, New Hampshire, experiences this problem, and has been actively combating climate change since the beginning.
Fred Baybutt, co-owner of the mountain, said since it was founded, they have been attempting to lower their carbon footprint by using environmentally friendly equipment.
“We started the mountain from scratch and, right away, wanted to use environmentally friendly systems in order to fight the climate change problem,” Baybutt said.
Baybutt said Granite Gorge prioritizes the mitigation of climate change, and they are doing everything they can to help the cause.
Baybutt said the mountain now uses variable speed engines in order to cut down the amount of power needed, as well as electric snowmaking equipment, instead of diesel, in an attempt to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide that goes into the atmosphere.
According to research by Powder Magazine, in as little as 70 years, the ski season will considerably decrease in duration due to climate change, no matter the efforts to stop it in the near future.
Resorts will not be able to open early enough because there will be no snow, and they’ll close too early because the snow that does come will melt too quickly.
And it’s not just the natural snow that’s the problem. According to Allen, temperatures will increase as well, meaning it will be warmer and harder for mountains to make artificial snow.
The economic pressure that the effects of climate change will put on ski resorts will put most of them out of business because of a decrease in ticket sales.
Julie Brown from Powder Magazine writes, “If nothing is done to stop global warming and our planet continues to burn greenhouse gases as we do now, the ski industry will be a shadow of what it is today.”
Environmental studies student at KSC, Tom Wolters said, “The relationship between climate change and winter sports is a pretty unique and confusing one… the effects climate change has had on the sport has been hard to predict over the past couple years.”
Wolters added that the effects that climate change will have on ski resorts won’t be very measurable within the next couple years, but will hurt them in the long run.
Things like an increase in rain storms during the month of February will be huge blows to ski resorts in New England in the future if climate change continues to progress the way it is.
“It just comes down to self-awareness,” said Wolters. “The things we do have implications elsewhere, and it’s just important to respect each other and respect everything around us.”
Climate change has been affecting our world for years. Electric cars and LED light bulbs are both ways you can be more environmentally friendly and keep winter sports alive for future generations.
Zoeann Day can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org