(MONROE, WA) -- Call it global warming, call it global climate change or call it voodoo if you want but the fact remains the changes our planet is going through are going to bring new winners and losers in the not distant future and one of the losers may be skiers and ski resorts.
The warmer winters gradually being caused by climate change could make it a lot tougher to operate ski resorts here in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere.
A new study by researchers at the University of New Hampshire shows mild winters and poor ski seasons are becoming more common with the passage of time.
And as would be expected, in years with less snow fewer skiers visited resorts in the Pacific Northwest. For example:
Idaho had 17 percent fewer skiers
Washington State had 28 percent fewer skiers
Oregon had 31 percent fewer skiers
And that in turn translates to fewer ski resort jobs and less money all across the country for the winter tourism industry that many Americans depend upon for their livelihoods.
“In many states that rely on winter tourism, snow is currency and climate change is expected to contribute to warmer winters, reduced snowfall and shorter seasons. This spells economic devastation for a winter sports industry deeply dependent upon predictable, heavy snowfall,” says the new report.
There are 38 states that depend upon, and benefit from the $12.2 billion winter tourism industry.
Numbers from the 2009-2010 ski season show that our state, Washington employed some 6,039 people.
Oregon had 5,565 people that depended on payrolls that in turn depend upon snow and Idaho’s winter tourism industry employed some 5,488 people.
The new study indicates that continuing climate change will result in less snow and more rain at the lower-elevations in mountains.
In the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges, the research shows the mountain snowpack will decrease up to 70 percent by the year 2050.
On Dec. 6 the Sky Valley Chronicle featured what turned out to be a heavily read article on climate change by former Monroe resident Dennis Gallagher called “Who Do You Trust On Climate Change?” that can be read here