It was the best of times, it was [will be] the worst of times.

My brother stumbled across an interesting pair of headlines today. Nothing very new, but a nice collection yin and yang. Weather vs climate. Observation vs model. Boom vs bust.

Buried chairlift

The loading area for this chairlift is buried under deep snow.

First, the yang. WUWT already covered this at Another ‘Vinerism’, or just a snow job? to summarize, this is a press release from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the Andorran Sustainability Observatory warns that the ski industry in Andorra, a small country in the Pyrenees is facing disaster:

Climate change could cause massive losses in Pyrenees ski resorts
An increase in temperatures due to climate change could mean that the Andorran ski resorts have a shorter season in the future, especially in lower areas. A study undertaken by the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the Andorran Sustainability Observatory has analysed the specific case of the Pyrenean country and predicted that financial losses could come close to 50 million euros.

The study analysed three ski resorts in the principality: Grand Valira, Pal-Arinsal and Arcalís. And it is based on three possible scenarios as a consequence of climate change: the current situation and two possible future conditions.

Out of the last two, the first considers an increase of 2 C° in the average winter temperature whereas the second is based on an increase of 4 C°.

“We have employed these temperature increase figures based on two of the scenarios from the SRES report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which are predicted as plausible for the Pyrenees at the end of the 21st century,” states Pons.

The importance of attitude [sic]

In the study, the altitude of skiable terrain is “one of the most determining factors in the vulnerability of the resorts,” adds Pons. An assessment was made of the future snow cover of each one of the tourist resorts at various altitudes: 1500 metres, 2000 metres and 2500 metres.

… if the temperature were to increase by 2 C° in winter, only the lowest areas of Pal-Arinsal would be affected and the ski season would be shortened by 30%. This would mean a reduction in the number of skiers and investment in the region would be very small.

In contrast, in the case of a 4 C° increase, the three tourist resorts would suffer from serious reductions in their lower altitude areas, where even the snow production machines could not even help to save the ski season. Nonetheless, the higher areas would remain stable throughout the season.

Delicate Pal-Arinsal and privileged Arcalís

The most critical of situations would be that of Pal-Arinsal, which could not even continue even with snow production machines. On the other hand, Grand-Valira and Arcalís would carry on, although with a shorter ski period.

The press release refers to “Marc Pons-Pons, Peter A. Johnson, Martí Rosas-Casals, Bàrbara Sureda, Èric Jover. Modeling climate change effects on winter ski tourism in Andorra [paywalled]“. Climate Research.”

The yin comes from observations of snow. Lots of snow. French resort breaks world snow record overdoes it a bit. Apparently no real record, just more snow than at any other ski resort today:

Cauterets, in the French Pyrenees, has overtaken the world record for snow at a ski resort, with a massive 5 metres of snow on the ground – enough to keep the slopes open for business until mid April.

According to the French newspaper La Figaro, as of Sunday the resort had more snow than any other ski resort in the world, beating the record held until now by Mammoth Mountain in the USA.

The record levels have been due to it snowing in Cauterets every day since January 13, with France Meteo’s forecasts suggesting that the snow will continue falling in the days ahead, with almost one metre extra likely to be added by the middle of next week.

However, this amount of snow has its drawbacks, with some ski slopes being forced to close for safety reasons and sixty people currently working to clear the resort of the excess.

With suitable conditions on the ground likely to remain until mid-April, this has been greeted as good news for the resort and for the surrounding tourist infrastructure of hotels, restaurants and bed and breakfasts. [Overstated and understated in a single story!]

The photo source above, says “Cauterets is reporting 5.5m and the resort of St Lary says it has 6.4m of snow.” I assume it’s still good news, at least once they dig out the chairlifts.

As for the Andorran Pyrenees, “delicate Pal-Arinsal” has 1.6 – 2.1m and “privileged Arcalís” has 2.2 – 3.2m with projected closing dates of early and late April.

I guess Mother Nature hasn’t gotten the word. Perhaps she can’t afford the paywall charges.

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About Ric Werme

I'm a software engineer with roots that go back to PDP-10s and the ARPAnet (and WWW references to those days). I also like most anything scientific and am active in the climate skeptic community.
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51 Responses to It was the best of times, it was [will be] the worst of times.

  1. RockyRoad says:

    Indeed, the biggest (and only authoritarian) critic of this CAGW cult is Mother Nature. She’s been making fools of the Warmistas for years–someday they’ll dig their heads out of their computer models and notice.

    Or not.

  2. Nigel S says:

    This one writes itself… ‘Catatonia Poly’

  3. Rhys Jaggar says:

    Actually resorts often shut due to avalanche risk when this amount of snow falls. February 1990 saw 4 metres of snow fall in France, Western Italy and Southern Switzerland and villages were being evacuated due to the prospect of the avalanches wiping out hotels, chalets etc. Not very good for tourism that!

    You also get access roads blocked which means that day trippers don’t come. Not good for business either.

    What you could actually do with is 50cm of snow in 36 hrs once a week. Each fall isn’t too big, three days of settlement stabilise the snowpack and regular snowfalls build up snow depth. In addition, the number of powder days is huge.

    Safe to say it doesn’t happen very often….

  4. What folly [again] in academia. Maybe I should say academentra.

  5. DeNihilist says:

    Rat’s, when my computer failed, I lost my link to a scientists paper, written I believe in the 70’s or 80’s, arguing that in fact, it is the warming of the planet, that causes the arctic ice to lessen, that causes MORE SNOW to fall, that causes longer times of white earth, that causes more reflection of the suns’ energy, that causes cooler springs and summers, that actually causes the ice ages.

    Interesting read, more detailed of course, but eerily starting to look very possible!

  6. sophocles says:

    Three scenarios were considered, present temps, plus 2 degrees and plus 4 degrees. What if none of these scenarios is the future?
    What if temps dropped 2 degrees?
    Or even 4 degrees? Brrrrrr

  7. A.D. Everard says:

    I’m sorry, I forget – is it LESS snow or MORE snow that’s caused by Global Warming? They keep changin’ it. I guess they’re hedging their bets until Mother Nature shows them which way she’s headed for sure – and they’ll claim that one.

  8. Faustino says:

    Three things: first, temperature rises by the end of the century will not affect anyone’s investment decisions in the next 40 years or so. Second, demand for skiing rises with incomes. If availability of ski-slopes declines, for whatever reason … prices rise. The Pyrenean resorts might do well. Third, if people can’t go skiing (perhaps because of the increased relative price, difficulty of getting bookings), then they’ll holiday elsewhere, some third parties will benefit.

    I tried and failed to comment on an IPCC draft of many tourism analyses at Richard Tol’s site. Essentially, the message of the many studies of tourism and “climate change” was that people have many reasons for choosing between alternatives, one of which is the expected weather. Ho hum, nothing to see, move along folks, let’s research something with potentially useful end-product..

  9. If you ‘cry wolf’ often enough, people will increasingly dismiss the warnings. The more ‘predictions’ they make like this, the more people will start to dismiss them.

  10. Faustino says:

    DeNihilist, that argument is made regularly at Climate Etc, I think by Hermann Pope.

  11. Chris Schoneveld says:

    This is a typical case of precipitation increase rather than a temperature effect. We live down hill from Cauterets and we haven’t seen any snow where we live since early January, only rain rain and rain. Yet from our house we see these beautiful snow covered mountains.

  12. DirkH says:

    DeNihilist says:
    February 12, 2013 at 10:29 pm
    “Rat’s, when my computer failed, I lost my link to a scientists paper, written I believe in the 70′s or 80′s, arguing that in fact, it is the warming of the planet, that causes the arctic ice to lessen, that causes MORE SNOW to fall, that causes longer times of white earth, that causes more reflection of the suns’ energy, that causes cooler springs and summers, that actually causes the ice ages.”

    In 1975 at the Our Endangered Atmosphere conference in Stanford, Mead, Lovelock, Holdren, Schneider and others tried to find ways to blame everything on CO2. It was still the time of the ice age scare.

    So Hansen and others tried to invent Rube Goldberg like schemes in which the hypothesized Arrhenius mechanism could lead indirectly to an ice age.

    Why did they want to blame CO2? Well, Silent Spring and the war against DDT had shown them that they had power as long as they could mobilize the public. The most dangerous place on Earth was between Schneider and a TV camera. He knew he had to offer scary scenarios and make the right choice between being efficient and being honest to make a big career out of snake oil sales.

    That CO2 leads to warming leads to snowfall leads to an ice age was as much based in fact as the current IPCC writings are; namely not at all.

    During the 80ies of course they had to change the story as temperatures didn’t play along. They’ll change it again; this scourge on scientific funding will not go away any day soon, and now POTUS has promised to pump them full of newly printed Dollars for the foreseeable future just like the EU did with their recently announced budget of which 20% will be squandered uselessly on the Keynesian altar of warmism.

  13. Chris Schoneveld says:

    Actually, it has been a rather mild winter. Look for instance at the temperatures in Celcius today (Pyrenees are along the border with Spain in the south, for those who are not familiar with the geography of France): http://france.meteofrance.com/france/meteo?PREVISIONS_PORTLET.path=previsions/20130213130000T
    Obviously these are the temperatures at the foot of the mountains.

  14. Jim G says:

    A quote I came across in an electrical engineering article.
    (Mind you, this about models of something as mundane (/sarc off) as electrical/electronic circuitry.)

    “All models are wrong. Some are useful.”
    I don’t recall the author of the quote.

  15. Roy says:

    I went hiking in Andorra one summer over 50 years ago. The infrastructure of the skiing industry was just going up in some places then. Presumably they have pretty detailed records of snowfall since that time but I wonder how far back they go and how detailed they are for the time before the ski industry developed? I could be wrong but I would hazard a guess that if the Andorrans had detailed records of snowfall in the ski areas going back a century or more the researchers would not have assumed that any decrease in snowfall was a long term trend rather than a cyclical event.

  16. Caleb says:

    Alarmists will simply invent a scenario which explains the snow is due to warming. Although the arctic is frozen up by now, they will explain more snow is due to less sea ice.

    If the ice doesn’t melt it as much this summer, they will say it was due to more clouds due to warming.

    All we can do is point out the times (and there are many) that what they say this week contradicts with what they said last week.

    This is exactly what Ric has done by comparing these two stories.

    I have faith the Truth will triumph.

  17. Bertram Felden says:

    I’ve had it with Andorra’s skiing anyway – it’s now way more expensive than the nearby French resorts and the locals by and large have the manners of ill behaved pigs. So snow or no snow they won’t be getting any more of my cash in the foreseeable.

    Andorra is, btw, a four hour drive for me.

  18. Roy says:

    In my comments on Andorra in the 1960s I should have written that I was there almost 50 years ago, not “over 50 years ago.” It was actually 1965 and there were, if I remember rightly, just two valleys with a ski lift in existence or under construction.

    Similar worries to those in the Andorran report have been expressed in connection with the Scottish ski industry which also developed in the 1960s. The report below is 3 years old.

    Scottish ski industry could disappear due to global warming, warns Met Office
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scotland/4579829/Scottish-ski-industry-could-disappear-due-to-global-warming-warns-Met-Office.html
    By Auslan Cramb, Daily Telegraph 10 Feb 2009

    Scotland’s ski industry could disappear within decades because of global warming, according to the Met Office. The country’s five resorts are currently enjoying exceptional conditions after heavy snowfall in the Highlands, but climate change may mean they have less than 50 years of ski-ing left.”

    “Alex Hill, chief government advisor with the Met Office, said the amount of snow in the Scottish mountains had been decreasing for the last 40 years and there was no reason for the decline to stop.

    “He added: “Put it this way, I will not be investing in the ski-ing industry. Will there be a ski industry in Scotland in 50 years’ time? Very unlikely.” “

  19. mosomoso says:

    ” A study undertaken by the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the Andorran Sustainability Observatory…”

    Call me petty, but how much did this study cost? And do they do refunds?

    Also, who doubts that, if weather in the Pyrenees was the exact opposite of what it is now, that the same diagnosis would apply to that opposite condition? If the weather/climate ever did “stabilise”, who doubts that CAGW boosters would speak of an “eerie climatic calm” attributable to…

    But you guessed already!

  20. Steve C says:

    Jim G says (February 12, 11:50 pm)
    … “All models are wrong. Some are useful.”

    And in electronic engineering models, every part modelled is made by humans, with all its parameters known, all tolerance spreads known …

  21. Olaf Koenders says:

    It won’t be long and they’ll blame the glaciers growing on AGW, because of all the snow. I can’t wait ;)

  22. Johnnyrvf says:

    @Bertram Feldem. I live about 5 hours away, the only reason I go to Andorra is to buy cheap motorcycle stuff, or if I want to take a different route to Barcelona, I agree with your comments about the attitude of the locals, unless I am shopping, I never stop there, I just ride on through.

  23. Robertv says:

    Andorra

  24. Rick Bradford says:

    “The importance of attitude” [sic]

    “In the study, the altitude….

    Good Freudian slip there….

  25. Roy says:

    Further to my comments comparing the ski industry in Scotland with that in Andorra I came across an article in the Guardian in 2004 which predicted that the Scottish ski industry could be gone within 20 years.

    Global warming forces sale of Scottish winter sports resorts
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2004/feb/14/climatechange.scotland
    The Guardian, Saturday 14 February 2004

    “The future of skiing and snowboarding in Scotland appeared bleak last night after two of the country’s five ski resorts were put up for sale after large financial losses.”

    “With the pace of global warming increasing, some climate change experts predict that the Scottish ski industry will cease to exist within 20 years. The perilous state of finances in the remaining resorts may reduce even that estimate.”

    We are almost halfway to the predicted demise of the Scottish ski industry so what sort of state is it in now? The links below provide the answer.

    Scottish ski resort closes because of too much snow. Daily Mail 15 January 2010
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1243328/Scottish-ski-resort-closes-snow.html

    Heavy snow has skiers flocking to Scotland’s slopes
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8473934.stm

    Scotland’s ski industry is having a bumper winter as skiers flocks to its slopes, making up for the years when it was struggling due to a lack of snow. BBC, 22 January 2010

    Snow and skiers rescue Scotland’s tourism from recessionary blasts
    http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/2222450
    Press & Journal, 3/04/2011.

  26. Hector Pascal says:

    “Cauterets, in the French Pyrenees, has overtaken the world record for snow at a ski resort, with a massive 5 metres of snow on the ground – enough to keep the slopes open for business until mid April.”

    Hahaha. World record, eh? That should set off Pielke’s bull**** button. They’ve missed out on “unprecedented” and “worse than we thought”. Here’s the road into Gassan, about an hour SW of my home. Gassan opens for skiing in June (if they get enough snow) hohoho.

    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/593/sdsc0065.jpg/

  27. SayNoToFearmongers says:

    They clearly didn’t get the memo further southwest in Cantabria – investment in a brand new ski resort is planned near Potes – see here: http://www.sanglorio.net/.

  28. Gene Selkov says:

    Steve C says:

    > And in electronic engineering models, every part modelled is made by humans, with all its parameters known, all tolerance spreads known …

    To an extent. The ability to make things does not necessarily result in the better knowledge of how they work. Ask Ivor Catt.

    http://www.electromagnetism.demon.co.uk/2603b.htm

  29. Reg. Blank says:

    Why have they only done 0, +2 and the fantasy +4 C? They should also have at least covered -2 and -4 C, both of which are much more likely to occur having done so in the past (prediction: amounts of frozen water = happyface, tourists skiiing at home instead of Andorra = sadface).

    They should also consider the tourist implications of the Pyrenees being flattened by a huge meteorite strike, and attack by zombies.

  30. jonny old boy says:

    its a well known fact in that part of the world that a warmer that usual winter will usually produce higher than average snowfall to the resorts later in the winter. So I am not sure what research they did to effectively state that history appears to be telling lies….The pyrennes has unique geographical characteristic one of which is the angle of the fairly thin mountain range against the average direction of the prevailing wind. This tends to bring pricipitation to areas that otherwise would have less. Hence why these resorts exist at all.

  31. Alan D McIntire says:

    This “global warming will adversely affect ski resorts” argument reeks of Al Gorean hypocrisy.
    Poor and middle class people are expected to cut back on energy use so the relatively wealthy can continue to fly or drive to ski resorts for vacations? If the CAGWers were sincere and rational, they would argue for shutting down ski resorts NOW- and reduce the impact they have on energy consumption.

  32. David L. says:

    A.D. Everard says:
    February 12, 2013 at 10:44 pm
    I’m sorry, I forget – is it LESS snow or MORE snow that’s caused by Global Warming? They keep changin’ it. I guess they’re hedging their bets until Mother Nature shows them which way she’s headed for sure – and they’ll claim that one”

    What these academic fools are doing is what’s known as “chasing the mean” in manufacturing circles. When you produce stuff and it fails the specifications the knee-jerk response is to go into the process and change something. If the product failed on the high side, you lower some inputs. If it failed on the low side you go and adjust things a little higher. People think this increases yield but it actually decreases yields. Proper engineering is to monitor the process for enough time to determine actually cause and effects from the noise. By chasing the mean one actually increases the noise (decreases yield) and never fixes anything.

  33. Bob Mount says:

    5 meters of snow – that’s nothing! Here in the UK, everything comes to a halt with any snow fall over
    2″(sorry, 50 mm – sounds scarier)!

  34. Bill_W says:

    The only sure thing is that global-climate-warming-change or whatever they call it now will definitely either cause more snow or less snow and it’s going to be BADDDDD …….!!

  35. Doug Danhoff says:

    I am truely concerned!! These things might easlly happen… Even worse, the world might end. Then what??!!

  36. Jim Clarke says:

    Speculating on what the future will be like if some unfounded scientific theory turns out to be accurate, is not science. It is more in line with fantasy role playing, where one speculates about life in a world with different ‘rules’ than reality. Over the last 25 years, there has been very little climate science produced anywhere. Instead, we are treated to an endless stream of climate Dungeons and Dragons.

  37. Mike (from the high desert of Western Nevada) says:

    I strapped on my first pair of skis in the winter of 1955 in the middle of the Sierra at a small hill called Little Sweden, on the highway leading up towards Dodge Ridge. I’m still skiing. Currently sitting in my time share condo at Snowbird, Utah, I don’t worry about the weather 50 years in the future. I’ll wait till it gets here. I drove from California to Snowbird/Alta during the first gas crisis in 1973 and have been coming out here at least once a year ever since. The winter of 1982, we saw 12 foot snow banks on Fanny Bridge in Tahoe City. It was a marvelous winter after a strong el nino. Hope I’m around for another one like that.

  38. Austin says:

    If we get more rain in the tropics when it is warm, according to the thermoregulation theory,. what occurs in the boundary along the polar cell in the winter, when we are cooling? More snow? Hmm.

  39. BBould says:

    An increase in temperatures due to climate change could…. As soon as I see this I know it’s horsemeat.

  40. GeoJim says:

    There has been much mocking of statements made by warmistas about warming causing cooling, and I have certainly been on that bandwagon, but isn’t that at least part of the point Willis has essentially been making in his profound discussions of the ENSO heat engine? During at least the Holocene, when the regions of the global ocean and atmosphere become somewhat warmer than “optimum”, natural buffering mechanisms kick in (e.g., a shift in the easterlies, an increase in clouds) that cool things off a bit, and that when conditions cool some, mechanisms kick in to warm things a bit. A dynamic system…nothing is static about climate…so in a sense warming causes cooling, but of course cooling causes warming too!

  41. paddylol says:

    5 meters of snow – that’s nothing! Here in the Cascade Range world records for snowfall and depth on the ground have been set at Mount Rainier and Mount Baker upon several occasions. As I recall snowfall totals >1200″ at both mountains have been logged. I personally experienced about 25 ft of snow accumulated at my cabin at the Alpental Ski Area near Snoqualmie Summit,WA at an elevation of 3200ft in 1972.

    [Reply - I pointed out this is not a real record, just the most currently on the planet at a ski resort. I suspect other resorts might have more.

    http://www.onthesnow.com/washington/alpental/skireport.html says Alpental has 82" to 146", which is 2.0m - 3.7m, which is less than what is in the Pyrenees. Being less than 5m, it also is equivalent to your nothing.

    Please report back with a ski area claiming more than 6.4m of snow today. -Ric]

  42. David L. says:

    The argument, as I understand it, is that the arctic ice melts which causes the arctic to be warmer than usual which causes southern regions like Eastern USA and Moscow to be colder than usual.

    So is the converse true? If arctic ice grows this causes the arctic to be colder than usual which causes southern regions to be warmer than usual? So any warming would be caused by the cooling of the arctic and not CO2?

  43. FerdinandAkin says:

    Jim G says:
    February 12, 2013 at 11:50 pm
    “All models are wrong. Some are useful.”
    I don’t recall the author of the quote.

    The quote is from George E. P. Box
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_E._P._Box

  44. otsar says:

    ” The french newspaper La Figaro” te he he he

  45. Skeptik says:

    “sixty people currently working to clear the resort of the excess.”

    Why not employ some global warmists and they can “homogenise” it away.

  46. tobias says:

    Now that the climate change bandwagon has gotten square wheels a well known Canadian environmentalist very popular here with a long running tv show (CBC Canadian gov, paid for tv) now has offered the latest explanation to keep the money trolling in “space debris” is the cause!

  47. Mike Haseler says:

    Around 2002, I was keen on winter climbing, but after a terrible winter with very little snow in Scotland, I remember finally going up onto the mountains to climb the “snow”. In fact, the mountain was bare except a thin 6inch wide dribble of ice in the bottom of a gulley.

    I can remember as I climbed up this literally suicidal climb (it was so poor, there was no way down once started … and extremely difficult without ice) … I remember thinking: “I could be the last ice-climber in Scotland”.

    Looking back, whilst the climb itself was completely daft … but far more stupid was the idea that snow and ice would disappear.

    PS. It snowed yesterday, as it has done every year recently.

  48. Alison Chester says:

    This article reminds me of the Yogi Berra quote “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.”

  49. markx says:

    GeoJim says: February 13, 2013 at 9:28 am

    “…..There has been much mocking of statements made by warmistas about warming causing cooling, and I have certainly been on that bandwagon, but isn’t that at least part of the point Willis has essentially been making in his profound discussions of the ENSO heat engine? During at least the Holocene, when the regions of the global ocean and atmosphere become somewhat warmer than “optimum”, natural buffering mechanisms kick in (e.g., a shift in the easterlies, an increase in clouds) that cool things off a bit, and that when conditions cool some, mechanisms kick in to warm things a bit. A dynamic system…nothing is static about climate…so in a sense warming causes cooling, but of course cooling causes warming too!….”

    ” …isn’t that at least part of the point Willis has essentially been making…”

    Yeah, sort of. Except Willis is proposing it is “self regulating negative feedback”, whereas they have always claimed it will be a runaway event. However they have now applied these “explanations” of recent happenings and observations … to an extent acknowledging some degree of negative feedback without changing the original stance/forecasts/projections/proclamations.

  50. Joseph Adam-Smith says:

    Re Roy – end of Scottish skiing

    A BBC report (poor pro-warming BBC) shows this year “Christmas has come early” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-20565341

    And the latest reports are showing “great cover.”
    http://ski.visitscotland.com/conditions/

    All caused by global Warming of course!!!!!

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