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.
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.