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Study: warming winters mean less time for snowmaking

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Mountain Technology,

As reported by New Hampshire Public Radio, a study by Plymouth State University, New Hampshire, US, and the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest has concluded that ski resorts in New Hampshire ski areas will have fewer days to make snow each winter as the climate warms.

For this study, the authors worked with the Loon Mountain Resort to see how warming is affecting ski areas. They were already aware that the White Mountains range was warming at a faster rate during winter than at other times of year.

The study found that in the past 50 years, the first three weeks of December had warmed by 2.5°C. That reduced snowmaking days by at least 20 – 30%, during a key period of business for ski resorts.

During the rest of the snowmaking season, the warming was found to be a little lower at 1.5°C. However for ski areas that have equipment that needs colder temperatures to operate, the loss of snowmaking days was still 75 to 90%.

Geoff Wilson, the Cary Institute, said: “Snowmaking opportunity windows are getting smaller over time, that was clear, and that’s particularly true before Christmas.”

Wilson added however that if ski areas such as Loon Mountain can afford to invest in bigger water supplies and more efficient equipment, that will offset some of the warming effect of climate change.

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