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How climate change could affect your favorite ski resorts

A new analysis by the Climate Impact Lab explores how global warming will hurt skiing opportunities in the U.S. It looks at how some major ski towns will see fewer below-freezing days in decades ahead under different emissions levels.

Data: Climate Impact Lab; Note: Moderate emissions projection used; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios
  • The chart above is reconstructed from their analysis of below-freezing days under of a "moderate" emissions scenario that would prevent runaway warming, but likely would not hold the rise below two degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels.
  • Why it matters: "As the climate continues to warm, the number of days that can support snowfall are expected to decrease, and ski resort towns could lose valuable tourism traffic," states the Climate Impact Lab, a collaboration between scientists, economists and other experts.

More from the report:

  • "Average snowfall is influenced by a resort’s elevation and the frequency of winter storms and precipitation. But, it’s just not going to snow if it’s warm outside — days below the freezing temperature of 32°F signal whether a resort town can potentially support snowfall for ski days."
  • "Making snow doesn’t get resorts off the hook either. The ideal temperature for artificial snowmaking is an even colder 28°F, dependent on humidity.
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