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Climate Response by the Ski Industry: The Shortcomings of Snowmaking for Australian Resorts

Abstract

Skier numbers, and revenues for the multi-billion-dollar ski industry, are highly sensitive to snow cover. Previous research projected that under climate change, natural snow cover will become inadequate at 65% of sites in the Australian ski resorts by 2020. Resorts plan to compensate for reduced snowfall through additional snowmaking. For the six main resorts, however, this would require over 700 additional snow guns by 2020, requiring ~US $100 million in capital investment, and 2,500–3,300 ML of water per month, as well as increased energy consumption. This is not practically feasible, especially as less water will be available. Therefore, low altitude ski resorts such as these may not be able to rely on snowmaking even for short-term adaptation to climate change. Instead, they are likely to seek conversion to summer activities and increased property development.

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Correspondence to Catherine Marina Pickering.

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Pickering, C.M., Buckley, R.C. Climate Response by the Ski Industry: The Shortcomings of Snowmaking for Australian Resorts. AMBIO 39, 430–438 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-010-0039-y

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Mountain tourism
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Australian Alps