Climate change will impact the winter sports industry…

This is the conclusion of a new joint report from the National Resources Defense Council and Protect Our Winters.

“The winter sports industry is deeply dependent upon predictable, heavy snowfall, but climate change is expected to contribute to warmer winters, reduced snowfall, and shorter snow seasons.” (NRDC & POW Report).

This should be a startling line for anyone who cares about winter sports and the survival of a way-of-life we all cherish.

The winter sports industry is worth an estimated $12.2 billion to the US and when there is a decreased snowpack, coupled with rising average winter temperatures the industry suffers as a direct result.

The research carried out by the NRDC and POW spells trouble for all businesses who depend on winter weather; from snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and snowshoeing, as well as other related sectors, such as lodging, gas stations, bars, restaurants and grocery stores.

The study aimed to influence policy makers to understand the winter sports industry’s current economic scale and the potential economic impact that climate change may cause.

Employment supported by winter tourism in 2009/2010

Employment supported by winter tourism in 2009/2010

“Study details include how historical changes in the winter season have already impacted the ski tourism industry with a focus on the most recent decade’s skiing statistics and a review of historical winter climate observations. It also considers what is at risk from the impact of future winter climate projections.” (NRDC & POW Report)

Average difference in skier visits for lower-snowfall years compared to higher-snowfall years between November 1999 and April 2010

Average difference in skier visits for lower-snowfall years compared to higher snowfall years between November 1999 and April 2010

Temperatures across the US are rising, according to the report, winter temperatures have warmed 0.16 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since 1895 and the rate of warming has more than tripled to 0.55 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since 1970.

“Without intervention, winter temperatures are projected to warm an additional 4 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, with subsequent decreases in snow cover area, snowfall, and shorter snow season. Snow depths could decline in the west by 25 to 100 percent. The length of the snow season in the north-east will be cut in half.” (NRDC & POW Report)

All of this translates into less snow and fewer people on the slopes. Enjoy your winters while you can… For a copy of the full report click here.

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