Climate change adaptation in the ski industry

  • Daniel ScottEmail author
  • Geoff McBoyle
Original Article


Regardless of the success of climate change mitigation efforts, the international community has concluded that societies around the world will need to adapt to some magnitude of climate change in the 21st century. While some economic sectors (e.g., agriculture, water resources and construction) have been actively engaged in climate change adaptation research for years, adaptation has received scant consideration within the tourism-recreation industry. This is particularly the case for adaptation by tourism operators (supply-side). One exception where progress on supply-side climate adaptation has been made is the ski industry. This paper provides a brief overview of the literature on the implications of climate change for the international ski industry and how adaptation by ski area operators has been treated within these studies. This is followed by an inventory of climate adaptation practices currently used by ski industry stakeholders, including the historical development of certain key adaptations and constraints to wider use. The characteristics of ski areas with higher adaptive capacity are identified. Considering the highly competitive nature of the ski industry and the generally low climate change risk appraisal within the industry, climate change adaptation is anticipated to remain individualistic and reactive for some time. With only a few exceptions, the existing climate change literature on winter tourism has not considered the wide range of adaptation options identified in this paper and has likely overestimated potential damages. An important task for future studies is to develop methodologies to incorporate adaptation so that a more accurate understanding of the vulnerability of the international ski industry can be ascertained.


Adaptation Climate change Ski industry Tourism Winter sports 



The authors are grateful to the Government of Canada’s Climate Change Action Fund––Impacts and Adaptation Programme (Project A715) for partial financial support of this research and to all of the stakeholders from the ski industry in Canada and the US that have shared their time and insights on a wide range of issues related to their industry. The support of Canada Research Chair Program (corresponding author) by the Government of Canada was also essential to this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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