Weather record after weather record is broken. The climate is changing and it is not certain what the consequences are for winter sports. I started a search for the climate, the consequences for winter sports and the things I can possibly do myself. This winter I wrote earlier this article and I had an interview with Jeremy Jones of POW about his vision on climate and winter sports.. All this with the following in mind.
What if there is no less snow falling? If the winters are so short that tree runs will become a thing of the past? That the snow cover above the tree line becomes too thin to be able to ride safely? If ski areas will become more dependent on artificial snow than is already the case today? Is that a worst case scenario? And if so, for whom? At wePowder we have avoided the climate discussion for years. With the motto: 'we are freeriders, we do no harm', we've kept ourselves silent for years. We love the outdoors, but do no harm? That's a little naive of course. My guess is that global warming is a realistic scenario and that we can do something about it! Better safe than sorry!
This week the weather services of France, Austria and Switzerland had a look at 2018. Never before has it been so warm in the measurement history that began in Switzerland in 1864, in France in 1900 and in Austria in 1768.
The graph above shows the development of the temperature in Austria since 1767. Since 1980 there has been a rapid warming. If the days after Christmas do not get too cold, a new record is set this year with a maximum that may even be 2,7 degrees celcius higher than the average recorded since the start of the measurements. Even if we compare 2018 with the long-term average recorded between 1980 and 2010, this year with 1.8 degrees in the plus is still very warm. Source
There is also a staggering warming in Switzerland. The average temperature of 6.9 degrees celcius in 2018 is no less than 3.1 degrees above the long-yearly average recorded at the beginning of the measurements. Even compared to the average between 1988 and 2017, 2018 is very warm. No less than 1.2 degrees warmer than average since 1988. Source
2018 is a record year in France as well. It is no less than 1.4 degrees warmer than the average recorded since the 1900 measurements. Source
Due to the warming, the number of days in which the ground is covered with snow has continued to decrease. A research from Switzerland shows that an increasingly large part of Switzerland remains virtually free from snow.
The warming in the high mountains now has two faces. On the one hand we see that the temperature in the mountains rises considerably in the spring, summer and autumn and even rises faster than in the lower parts of Switzerland. On the other hand, warming during the winter is (still) limited. The map below clearly shows that the snow (still) slows down the rise of the temperature during the winter in the higher parts of the Alps, but that especially in the valleys and overall during all seasons it has become considerably warmer in the winter. It is therefore not surprising that first and foremost an ever larger part of Switzerland remains free of snow. Source
The question is what will happen if the duration of the snow cover in the high alpine is also shortened by the warming. Will we then see an acceleration of the warming of the high alpine in winter?