The Impact of Climate Change on the Ski Industry in Colorado and California
Winton, Matthew Robert
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Climate change is considered one of the primary threats to the sustainability of ski tourism around the world. Studies in several countries project the ski industry will be impacted by shorter ski seasons, greater snowmaking requirements, and a declining ski demand. Many supply-side studies suffer key limitations, such as the omission of snowmaking, leaving their conclusions highly questionable. This study utilizes the SkiSim 2 model to reassess the implications of projected climate change for two major ski tourism destinations in the Western USA (Vail, Colorado and Lake Tahoe, California) where previous studies projected major impacts when snowmaking was not considered. Historical climate data (1961-1990) and the stochastic weather generator LARS-WG are used to examine the impact of climate change scenarios for ski season length and snowmaking requirements by the 2050s. Comparisons with previous studies and implications for ski tourism development and planning will be discussed.