Recently, Lukas Stege, a reporter from DW Travel, delved into the alarming consequences of climate change on the Alpine ski resorts. Stege investigated the dwindling snowfall, the economic challenges ski resorts face, and the strategies they use to adapt to the changing climate. Here’s the full story.
The Rise in Temperature
To gain insights into the current state of affairs and future plans for ski resorts, Stege traveled to both Germany and Austria, visiting the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain, and the Dachstein glacier in Austria.
The video shared the sobering reality that climate researchers predict a significant temperature rise of 4°Celsius in the Alps by 2050. This anticipated warming posed a direct threat to winter tourism in the region, prompting Stege to inquire about the longevity of skiing in the Alps.
The Last Generation to Go Skiing?
While capturing picturesque scenes of snow-clad landscapes and bustling ski resorts, Stege engaged with locals and tourists, asking for their sentiments about the changing dynamics of winter sports.
A poignant moment was captured when a skier shared concern that future generations may not have the privilege to enjoy skiing in the mountains due to unpredictable weather patterns and diminishing snowfall.
Another skier added, “Just going year to year with skiing, seeing how it changes, how the weather changes, it gets so chaotic, the precipitation. Every time, it’s a concern. We might be the last generation to do it naturally.”
Impact of Global Warming Was Evident
At the Zugspitze, Stege encountered several problems. Despite the appearance of business as usual, the impact of global warming was evident. Lifts were frequently at a standstill, and the Northern Schneeferner Glacier had significantly melted over the past 80 years. Notably, the operators of Zugspitze consciously avoid using artificial snow, relying on the natural snowfall, which is still sufficient at this altitude.
To delve deeper into the scientific aspects of climate change in the Alps, Stege visited the KIT Campus Alpin in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Here, climatologist Harald Kunstmann shares his insights, explaining that rising temperatures are pushing the snow line to higher elevations, making it increasingly challenging for natural skiing conditions.
Kunstmann also touched on the economic implications, saying that the reliance on artificial snow is becoming more expensive, contributing to the overall cost of skiing.
The video then transitioned to Garmisch Classic ski resort, showing the intricate network of snow cannons and lances that enable skiing even when natural snowfall is insufficient. Stege shared the growing uncertainty surrounding winter sports, especially at lower altitudes.
In Austria, Stege headed to the Dachstein glacier, where a radical decision had been made to close the ski area permanently in the face of changing climatic conditions. Despite dismantling the lifts, the region continues to attract visitors with alternative winter activities.
Rethink or Take Everything While You Still Can?
Stege concluded the video and asked, “Whether in France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, or here in Austria – one thing is certain: the climate is changing the winters all over the Alps. Skiing areas are becoming smaller and it’s going to be more expensive. So – take everything with you while you still can? Or rethink?
Several YouTube users shared their thoughts on the incident.
One user highlighted the role of temperature fluctuations in disrupting ski resort operations, particularly in the Austrian Alps. Another user shared firsthand experiences from Vancouver, Canada, revealing the challenges faced by ski resorts due to delayed starts and closures attributed to insufficient snowfall.
So what are your thoughts? Given the challenges posed by climate change on Alpine ski resorts, what measures do you believe should be prioritized to ensure the sustainability of winter tourism in these destinations?