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Going, Going Green
ALEXAN DER WOLFF
March 12, 2007
As global warming changes the planet, it is changing the sports world. To counter the looming environmental crisis, surprising and in novative ideas are already helping sports adapt
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March 12, 2007

Going, Going Green

As global warming changes the planet, it is changing the sports world. To counter the looming environmental crisis, surprising and in novative ideas are already helping sports adapt

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Climate warming is most pronounced at high latitudes and over land. Since the mid-1980s, the temperature in the Alps has risen at about three times the global average. Over the last 500 years, 1994, 2000, 2002 and 2003 were the warmest on record in the Alps.

While there is considerable variability year to year, since 1970 the average amount of winter snow cover in North America has decreased almost 4%--205,000 square miles, an area larger than the state of Washington. More winter precipitation is falling as rain instead of snow. Ski resorts are making artificial snow earlier in the season, and warm nights make that an even more expensive exercise.

Some Alpine resorts have begun "wrapping" glaciers--draping football-field-sized foil sheets around them in the summer to keep sunlight out and cold in. Low-lying resorts are pushing their runs higher up mountains, or using more slopes that face north to avoid the sunlight, leaving skiers in the dark.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

LOSING TIME How many days less will the average ski season last in the U.S. by 2025 and '50?


*The season at high-elevation California resorts may temporarily get longer as precipitation increases while it is still cold enough to fall as snow. Data and analysis courtesy of J. VanDorn, K. Hayhoe and E. Maurer, ATMOSrearch

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