New report paints bleak future for Swiss ski resorts

New report paints bleak future for Swiss ski resorts

A new report has shown the worrying extent to which Swiss ski resorts will suffer as temperatures rise and heavy snow becomes less frequent.

Swiss ski resorts threatened by temperature rises

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, looked at 2.234 ski resorts across 28 European countries, including 203 in Switzerland, and used weather modelling to determine the impact a 2- and 4-degree temperature rise would have on snow coverage and therefore winter sports. The authors defined a snow-poor winter every two years as putting a resort “at risk”, RTS reports.

According to the models, if global warming was limited to 1,5 degrees, only 5 percent of ski resorts in the Swiss Alps would be at risk (compared with 32 percent of all European resorts). With a 2-degree rise, 53 percent of European resorts would be at risk while with a 4-degree rise, 98 percent would suffer. In Switzerland, if the temperature rose 4 degrees, 99 percent of all ski resorts would be at risk. 

Artificial snow cannot save all ski resorts

Artificial snow can significantly reduce this risk, according to the study’s authors, but it is not a cure-all. Even if it were used, 27 percent of all resorts in Europe would be threatened amid a 2-degree temperature rise, and 71 percent of resorts in a 4-degree scenario. In the Swiss Alps, these figures were at 5 percent and 38 percent, respectively. 

However, the scientists stress that artificial snow is not a panacea: perhaps even the reverse, as it requires huge amounts of water and energy to produce, adding to the CO2 emissions of an industry with an already sizeable carbon footprint. 

The authors, led by Samuel Morin from the National Centre for Meteorological Research in Grenoble, France, conclude that it might not even be worth perpetuating the dependence on winter tourism in certain regions. 

Abi Carter


Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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