The study indicates snowlines -- elevations below which seasonal snowpack will not develop -- will continue to rise through this century, moving up more than 2,400 feet from the base areas of Colorado's Aspen Mountain and Utah's Park City Mountain by 2100, said University of Colorado at Boulder geography Professor Mark Williams. Williams and Brian Lazar of Stratus Consulting Inc. of Boulder combined temperature and precipitation data for Aspen Mountain and Park City Mountain with general climate circulation models for the study.
The pair came up with three scenarios for each of the two ski havens for the years 2030, 2075 and 2100. The low-emissions scenario is based on the presumption that the world begins reducing CO2 emissions, said Williams. The "business-as-usual" scenario assumes the future rate of CO2 increase will be similar to the current rate, while the high-emissions scenario assumes future CO2 emissions will increase over the present rate.
Their forecasts indicate the "business as usual" scenario will cause average temperatures to rise by nearly 4 degrees Fahrenheit at Aspen and Park City by 2030 and 8.6 degrees F in Aspen and 10.4 degrees F for Park City by 2100, said Williams. A paper by Williams and Lazar was presented at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union held Dec. 15-19 in San Francisco.
"Ski industry officials know that warming is real, and that small changes in climate have substantial effects on ski areas," said Williams, also a fellow at CU-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine research. "The bad news is that the past five years of global CO2 emissions have exceeded our high-emissions scenario."...."The bottom line is that in order to survive, these ski areas will need to find the necessary water wherever they can and hold it in storage to satisfy future snowmaking needs," Williams said. "Ski resort operators are really scrambling."...