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
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.
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