According to experts, climate change is leading several ski stations - especially those at lower altitudes - to seek alternative means of attracting tourists over the winter, as the levels of snow expected to fall continue to drop on average year-on-year, explains French newspaper Le Monde.
Despite this year’s huge drop of snow - especially in the French Alps - by 2030, it is expected that there will be significantly less snow at lower altitude overall, with climate change causing the height of the “rain-snow line” (the altitude at which rain turns to snow) to increase significantly.
As the rain-snow line increases, skiers will be forced to go ever higher in altitude to find the powder they crave, and there will be less and less snow.
“Everything is related to global warming,” explains Christophe Chaix, a climatologist at the Agence Alpine des Territoires, speaking to Le Monde. “Before 1989, we always had good, snowy seasons. Then, a rise of 1C by 1990 led to the rain-snow line rising by 200 metres - which is 25% less snow. And it will continue to rise.”
Despite there being several ways to create fake snow, they can often be cumbersome and expensive, and ski stations lower down the mountain fear that they will no longer be able to pull in tourists looking purely for snow sports.
In response to this, certain stations are already anticipating a change, including Chamrousse, near Grenoble, which is aiming to offer a raft of alternative options for tourists by 2030, including new three- and four-star hotels, seminar centres, and a “balneotherapy” spa centre, which do not rely on the snow to operate.
Some ski stations are currently still using methods to create fake snow, including the use of snow canons, and even enlisting trucks to re-distribute snow from high-snowfall areas to those without enough, with some even storing it over the summer.
Yet, these methods can be very expensive and use huge amounts of water, power, organisation and labour time, and arguably do not produce the same quality of snow as their natural counterpart.
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