Snow is a crucial indicator of both weather patterns and climate change. While snow patterns may still vary from year to year depending on location, the overall trend suggests that the snowpack is increasing in elevation as a result of rising temperatures.
This means that areas that are warm enough to receive snow are likely to experience more intense snowfall events, as the atmosphere is capable of holding more moisture in a warmer climate. The warmer ocean waters off the coast of Atlantic Canada are providing more energy for the winter nor’easters, further fueling the intensity of snow storms.
However, new research is also linking the warming Arctic to a weakened polar vortex, which could result in more extreme snowfall events across North America.
In contrast, Western Europe is projected to see an increase in winter rain rather than snow. With more extreme events expected to occur with climate change, it is imperative that individuals and communities become more resilient to these changes.
The effects of climate change are also impacting winter recreation, with a projected 12-20% reduction in the ski season over the next 30 years. This will mean higher operational costs for winter sports businesses, as well as challenges for hosting future Winter Olympics.
In a recent study, scientists found that by mid-century, four former Olympic sites will no longer have reliable climates for hosting, with an additional seven cities joining that list by 2080. Winter Olympics will look very different in the future, depending on how countries respond to climate change.
While some resorts are adapting by offering all-season activities, ideal snow-making conditions will also become increasingly difficult to achieve, as the warmer climate means that there is more moisture in the air.
It is clear that climate change will have a significant impact on winter sports and winter recreation. It is essential that individuals, communities, and governments take action to mitigate the effects of climate change and become more resilient to its impacts.
Snow tells us a lot about our changing climate. From increasing snow elevations to supercharged snow storms, the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly evident. Winter recreation and sports will be significantly impacted, with shorter ski seasons, higher costs, and challenges for hosting Winter Olympics.
It is up to us to take action and become more resilient to the effects of climate change, in order to ensure a bright future for winter sports and recreation.