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Skier numbers, and revenues for the multi-billion-dollar ski industry, are highly sensitive to snow cover. Previous research projected that under climate change, natural snow cover will become inadequate at 65% of sites in the Australian ski resorts by 2020. Resorts plan to compensate for reduced snowfall through additional snowmaking. For the six main resorts, however, this would require over 700 additional snow guns by 2020, requiring approximately US $100 million in capital investment, and 2,500-3,300 ML of water per month, as well as increased energy consumption. This is not practically feasible, especially as less water will be available. Therefore, low altitude ski resorts such as these may not be able to rely on snowmaking even for short-term adaptation to climate change. Instead, they are likely to seek conversion to summer activities and increased property development.
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Climate Response by the Ski Industry: The Shortcomings
of Snowmaking for Australian Resorts
Catherine Marina Pickering, Ralf C. Buckley
Received: 10 December 2008 / Revised: 17 May 2009 / Accepted: 18 November 2009 / Published online: 3 June 2010
Abstract Skier numbers, and revenues for the multi-bil-
lion-dollar ski industry, are highly sensitive to snow cover.
Previous research projected that under climate change,
natural snow cover will become inadequate at 65% of sites
in the Australian ski resorts by 2020. Resorts plan to
compensate for reduced snowfall through additional
snowmaking. For the six main resorts, however, this would
require over 700 additional snow guns by 2020, requiring
*US $100 million in capital investment, and 2,500–
3,300 ML of water per month, as well as increased energy
consumption. This is not practically feasible, especially as
less water will be available. Therefore, low altitude ski
resorts such as these may not be able to rely on snow-
making even for short-term adaptation to climate change.
Instead, they are likely to seek conversion to summer
activities and increased property development.
Keywords Climate change Mountain tourism
Environmental sustainability Australian Alps
Anthropogenic climate change is already affecting the
climate of mountain regions worldwide, and much larger
effects are projected (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change 2007). This includes higher temperatures and
reduced precipitation for many alpine regions (Intergov-
ernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007), including those
in Australia (Green and Pickering 2002,2009; Hennessey
et al. 2003,2008; Nicholls 2005). Snow-based tourism is a
major industry (Scott and McBoyle 2007), with the Aus-
tralian ski resorts worth *US $725,000,000 in 2005
(NIEIR 2006). Reduced snow cover will affect most snow-
based recreation, including skiing, snowboarding,
snowshoeing, tobogganing and snowmobiling (Scott and
McBoyle 2007). These effects have been examined in a
range of Northern Hemisphere resorts (Scott and McBoyle
2007) including the Swiss Alps (Ko
¨nig and Abegg 1997;
Elsasser and Messerli 2001), Austria (Breiling and Char-
amza 1999), Sweden (Moen and Fredman 2007), the whole
of the European Alps (Agrawala 2007), the north-eastern
USA (Scott et al. 2008), Quebec (Scott et al. 2007), Ontario
(Scott et al. 2003) and Japan (Fukushima et al. 2002).
There is much less research in the Southern Hemisphere,
including the Australian Alps, the main ski tourism desti-
nation in Australia (Hennessey et al. 2003,2008; Galloway
1998). In this article, we examine the impact of climate
change on Australian ski resorts, focussing on their
capacity to utilize snowmaking to reduced natural snow
We analyse the implications of potential climate change for
ski resorts in Australia using publicly available informa-
tion. Climate data, projections of climate change, visitation
and financial data for resorts are much more limited in
Australia than in Europe (Breiling and Charamza 1999;
¨nen et al. 2005; Agrawala 2007; Moen and Fredman
2007; Gonseth 2008; Vanham et al. 2008), North America
(Scott et al. 2008; Shih et al. 2009) or Asia (Fukushima
et al. 2002). Only four official snow courses are used for
modelling snow cover in Australia, and measurements are
taken only once every 2 weeks. Available data thus do not
always cover the full period that snow is on the ground, and
data are often missing. Even basic temperature data are
limited, with few weather stations above 1,300 m consid-
ered to have reliable long-term ([20 years) data sets
123 ÓRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010
AMBIO (2010) 39:430–438
DOI 10.1007/s13280-010-0039-y
(Hennessey et al. 2003,2008). Ski resorts in Australia
generally treat visitation data, income, expenditure, water
and power consumption, and even snow-cover data as
commercially confidential. This applies particularly for the
privately-owned ski resorts in the state of New South
Wales (NSW). Ski resorts in the state of Victoria (Vic)
provide some relevant information in their annual reports
(Alpine Resorts Co-coordinating Council 2007,2008),
because of compulsory public reporting requirements.
Our approach is as follows. Firstly, we assessed the
effects of variation in natural snow cover on skier numbers
over the nine ski seasons. Secondly, we compiled data on
current snow-making by Australian ski resorts, including
the value of current snow-making infrastructure. The
principal source of such data is a recent report which
models the impacts of climatic warming on snow condi-
tions, with detailed projections of changes in natural snow
cover (Hennessey et al. 2003,2008). Thirdly, we calculate
the number of snow guns, the water requirements, and the
costs of snow guns and associated infrastructure for each of
six Australian ski resorts under one 2020 climate change
scenario. The infrastructure comprises pumps, pipes and
water storage facilities. We calculated water requirements
by converting snow volumes to water volumes using the
same methods as in previously published climate-model-
ling calculations (Hennessey et al. 2003,2008). Our esti-
mates for the average costs of snow guns and associated
infrastructure were calculated using June 2008 values, from
the reported investment of US $13 million for 99 snow
guns (Australian Ski Areas Association 2008). Australian
dollar values (AUD) were converted to United States
dollars (USD) at the exchange rate applying at that time,
namely 0.8.
In Australia, regular snow is limited to the Australian Alps
and small areas in Tasmania (Fig. 1). Only 5,000 km
(0.15%) of the mainland regularly experiences any snow
cover persisting for more than a month each year, and
of this lies within existing ski resorts. There are 10
main resorts currently operating in the Australian Alps
(excluding Tasmania), ranging from 1,520 to 2,054 m
in altitude (Table 1). Revenues in 2005 totalled *US
$725 million (AU $906 million), from just under three
million visitor days (Australian Ski Areas Association
2008). Most of the Australian Alps lies within national
parks, and the resorts are all within or adjacent to these
parks. The ski season extends nominally between two
particular public holidays, a period of 113-120 days, but,
the actual season is much shorter, as outlined below.
Snow cover in Australian ski resorts is generally much
lower than in Northern Hemisphere resorts, which are at
higher altitudes or higher latitudes (Ko
¨nig 1998; Fukushi-
ma et al. 2002; Moen and Fredman 2007; Scott and
McBoyle 2007; Scott et al. 2008). This applies whether
snow cover is measured using duration, maximum depth or
cumulative snow cover for the whole season. The mean
maximum snow depth for the four main snow courses in
the Australian Alps during the last 55 years ranged from
*0.55 m at 1,460 m altitude, to *2.2 m at 1,830 m
Fig. 1 Location of ski resorts in
the Australian Alps in mainland
AMBIO (2010) 39:430–438 431
ÓRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010 123
altitude (Hennessey et al. 2003). Corresponding figures for
natural snow cover at ski resorts in Victoria ranged from
*40 cm at 1,234 m altitude to *1.45 m at 1,845 m alti-
tude (Australian Ski Areas Association 2008). The mean
number of days with 20 cm or more of natural snow, over
the past 10 years, ranged from 38 days at the lowest of
these six resorts, to 113 days at the highest (Australian Ski
Areas Association 2008). Corresponding figures for 30 cm
cover range from 4 to 107 days (Alpine Resorts Co-coor-
dinating Council 2007,2008). Even with snowmaking, the
number of days with 20 cm or more of snow only increased
slightly. During 2007, there were 42 such days at the
lowest altitude resort and 111 days at the highest. Mean
maximum snow depth is less than 1.5 m at any of these
resorts, even with snowmaking.
There exists a very close and statistically significant
(P=0.034) relationship between the cover of natural
snow and the number of visitors at these resorts (Fig. 2).
The numbers of winter visitor days for all resorts open in
each year in NSW and Victoria increased linearly with
cumulative daily snow depth at the highest-altitude snow
course. On average, during 2000–2008 inclusive, every
additional metre of cumulative natural snow cover was
associated with *3,000 additional winter visitor days. Not
only are skiers highly sensitive to annual variation in nat-
ural snowfall, but this sensitivity is increasing. In 1996,
when skiers were asked how they would react to reduced
natural snow cover, 37% said they would ski elsewhere,
and a further 37% that they would ski less often (Ko
1998). In 2007, however, only 16% said that they would
travel overseas to ski, and 74% said that they would ski less
often (Pickering et al. 2009).
According to ski-resort CEO’s and other industry com-
mentators (Bicknell and McManus 2006; Department of
Sustainability and Environment 2004), the Australian ski
resorts nevertheless see snowmaking as their principal
response to low natural snow in the future. In the following
Table 1 Characteristics of ski resorts in mainland Australia in 2008
Altitude (max in m) Skiable area (ha) Snow making (ha) Number snow guns
New South Wales
Perisher Blue
2,034 1,245 40.4 154
2,037 480 60 155
Charlotte Pass 1,954 50 NA 4
Selwyn Snowfields
1,614 45 35 27
Mt Buller
1,805 180 70 81
Falls Creek
1,780 451 100 210
Mt Hotham 1,845 320 17 75
Mt Baw Baw 1,563 30 9.9 10
Mt Buffalo 1,595 NA NA
Lake Mountain
1,520 6
Mount Stirling
Total for all resorts 2,801 *332 *716
Sources: Alpine Resorts Co-coordinating Council (2008), Australian Ski Areas Association (2008) and individual ski resort web sites
NA Not available as Mt Buffalo currently closed, and not clear whether it will reopen as ski destination
Six resorts for which detailed information is available on climate change projections on natural snow cover
No accommodation, no downhill ski facilities
Fig. 2 Relationship between snow metre days at Spencer’s Creek
Snow Course (Dr. Ken Green, NSW NPWS, pers. commun) and
number of visitors days to all resorts in the Australian Alps (Alpine
Resorts Co-coordinating Council 2007,2008) for 2000–2008. Linear
regression, F=6.960, P=0.034, r
=0.499. y=1527 ?2.9776x
432 AMBIO (2010) 39:430–438
123 ÓRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010
sections, therefore, we examine what this involves and how
feasible it may be.
In order to improve snow cover, resorts rely on: snow-
making; snow grooming and farming; and the modification
of the underlying terrain, known euphemistically as su-
pergrooming (Scott and McBoyle 2007; Australian Ski
Areas Association 2008; Pickering and Hill 2003). Snow-
making involves pumping stored water into the air under
pressure, often with a nucleating agent, when wet bulb
temperatures are below -2.5°C (Australian Ski Areas
Association 2008). In Australia, snowmaking is used
principally to provide snow cover at the start of the season,
to maintain cover on high use areas at lower altitudes, and
to extend the season at the end (Australian Ski Areas
Association 2008). Over the past 15 years, areas serviced
by snowmaking infrastructure within the larger Australian
ski resorts have increased by a factor of 2.75 times, from
*120 to *330 ha (Table 1). Even with this increase,
however, snowmaking areas cover \12% of the total ski-
able area in the resorts, which is 2.8 km
. Corresponding
proportions in European resorts range from 11.5% in the
German Alps, to 80% in the French Alps (Agrawala 2007;
Vanham et al. 2008; Gonseth 2008). In North America, the
proportions are higher still: 50–100% in some parts of
Canada (Scott et al. 2003) and 62–98% in the USA (Scott
and McBoyle 2007).
Snowmaking infrastructure differs considerably between
the various Australian resorts. There are differences in the
numbers, sizes, types and locations of water reservoirs,
pipes, compressors and snow guns (Australian Ski Areas
Association 2008). Snow guns themselves are only one
component of the capital costs of snowmaking infrastruc-
ture. Ski runs at lower altitude need considerably more
guns and water than those at higher altitude [Table 2, data
from Hennessey et al. (2003,2008)]. Lower altitudes
receive less natural snowfall, and have fewer nights that are
cold enough for snowmaking (Hennessey et al. 2003,
2008), so the resorts need to operate more guns simulta-
neously to compensate. In practice, therefore, snowmaking
is subject to significant physical, economic and environ-
mental constraints. In the following sections, we examine
how these constraints will affect the ability of Australian
ski resorts to make more snow under a changing climate.
The Australian Alps are at particular risk from climate
change. The most recent projections (Hennessey et al.
2003,2008) indicate that by 2020, just over a decade from
now, mean annual temperatures will increase by up to
1.0°C, and precipitation will decrease by up to 8.3%. We
refer to this projection as the ?1°C scenario. During
Australia’s usual skiing months from June to the end of
September, mean temperatures at ski resorts range from
0.7°C at 1,701 m altitude down to -1.55°C at 1,957 m
altitude, considerably warmer than most resorts in Europe,
Japan and North America (Hennessey et al. 2003,2008).
The projected 1°C rise in annual average temperatures will
thus have substantial effects both on natural snow cover
and on the number of nights suitable for snowmaking
(Hennessey et al. 2003,2008).
Current evidence indicates that temperatures are already
increasing, and winter snow cover is already decreasing,
particularly at higher altitudes (Green and Pickering 2002,
2009; Hennessey et al. 2003,2008; Nicholls 2005). Under
the ?1°C scenario, the area experiencing at least 60 days
with at least 1 cm of natural snow would decrease by 60%
(from 1990 to 2020). This would reduce the period with at
least 1 cm of natural snow cover to below the key threshold
of 60–70 days per year at the lower altitude sections of
almost all the ski resorts concerned [Fig. 3, data from
Hennessey et al. (2003)]. The projected number of days
with at least 1 cm snow cover under the ?1°C scenario has
been modelled at 20 individual locations within the resorts.
Only seven of these, i.e. 35%, are expected to retain
70 days or more with 1 cm or more of natural snow cover
by 2020 [Fig. 3, data from Hennessey et al. (2003)]. Two
more will have 60-70 days, and 11 are likely to have
\60 days snow cover per year under climate change sce-
narios as currently projected.
In order to make enough snow to keep existing runs skiable
under the ?1°C scenario, ski resorts in the Australia Alps
would need to increase both the number of snow guns and
how often they are used (Table 2). This means they would
need more water and more electricity to keep runs open,
with the greatest increases in the lowest altitude resorts. At
higher altitudes, the yield of snow from each gun is higher,
because there are more nights when it is cold enough for
the gun to operate. At lower altitudes, there are fewer
nights suitable for snowmaking, so more guns are needed
to produce the same volume of snow. In addition, at lower
altitudes, the total volume of snow needed to provide
adequate cover is greater than at high altitudes, because
there is less natural snow and because more snow melts and
evaporates. At present, the highest resort in the Australian
Alps operates only one gun per ski run, consuming
15,535 m
of water per season and yielding 38,838 m
AMBIO (2010) 39:430–438 433
ÓRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010 123
Table 2 Current and projected numbers and costs of snow guns for six Australian ski resorts
Altitude (m)
of ski run
Current conditions High impact 2020
Per ski run Per ski resort Per ski run Per snow gun Per ski resort
no. of
No. of
Value of
guns (US
$ millions)
in snow
in snow
no. of
No. of
Value of
guns (US
$ millions)
Mt Perisher 1,720 1 38,838 15,535 154 20.2 42 55,141 73 1.7 31,879 12,751 266.4 35.0 3,397,238
Mt Thredbo 1,340 1.8 42,947 17,179 155 20.3 43 61,414 85 3.7 16,598 6,639 286.8 37.6 1,903,841
Mt Selwyn 1,550 3 57,326 22,930 27 3.5 34 76,817 94 5.8 13,244 5,298 52.4 6.9 277,494
Mt Buller 1,720 3 41,587 16,635 81 10.6 61 66,955 181 8.4 7,971 3,188 227.6 29.9 725,697
Falls Creek 1,642 1.8 59,046 23,618 210 37.6 62 95,654 142 4.4 21,740 8,696 508.2 66.7 4,419,239
Lake Mountain 1,340 15 67,710 27,084 6 0.8 23 83,283 200 45 1,851 740 18 2.4 13,325
Total 25.6 307,454 122,981 633 83.1 439,264 69 93,283 37,312 1359 178.3 10,736,834
Projections refer to the 2020 high impact scenario (?1°C) (Hennessey et al. 2003,2008). Calculations are based on the most common (Brand A) air water gun (Hennessey et al. 2003). Costs
expressed in August 2008 US $, converted from AU $ at a rate of AU $1.00 =US $0.8
Data directly from Hennessey et al. (2003) and refers to the number of guns needed for adequate snow cover as defined by resorts per ski run under current conditions, and not necessarily the
number of guns currently installed
Data from Table 1
Data directly from Hennessey et al. (2003)
Calculated here. Snow volumes were converted into water volumes for resorts using the same methodology as Hennessey et al. (2003)
434 AMBIO (2010) 39:430–438
123 ÓRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010
snow per run per season (Table 2). The lowest resort, in
contrast, uses 15 guns per ski run, consuming a total of
27,084 m
per season of water and yielding 67,710 m
snow per run per season.
Under the ?1°C scenario, there will be: less natural
snow; fewer nights and fewer hours per night sufficiently
cold and humid for snowmaking; and increased rates of
evaporation and ablation, i.e. loss of snow and ice from
existing cover (Hennessey et al. 2003,2008). Under the
?1°C scenario, to achieve the same overall level of snow
as currently, these six resorts would need to install a further
1.7–45 guns per run, and increase total water consumption
by factors of around 23–62% per run. The lowest altitude
resort would need [25 times as many new guns per run as
the highest, for the reasons outlined above. The highest
resort is also the largest, however, with more runs, more
snowmaking facilities and more visitors than the lowest.
Total water consumption would thus increase by 42% at
the highest resort but only 23% at the lowest (Table 2). For
these six ski resorts in aggregate, maintaining sufficient
snow cover under the ?1°C scenario would require a fur-
ther 726 snow guns in total (Table 2).
The cost of installing snow guns varies considerably,
depending on the type and location of the guns and the
cost of piping, water storage facilities, pumps and control
systems. Estimates of average costs can be derived from
recent snowmaking expenditure by ski resorts. The resorts
recently installed a total of 99 snow guns and associated
infrastructure at a cost of US $13 million (Australian Ski
Areas Association 2008). Therefore, the cost of a single
snow gun and associated infrastructure is of the order of
US $131,000 in 2008. Using this figure, the total invest-
ment in current snowmaking infrastructure at the six
resorts can be estimated to be around US $82 million.
This compares to investments of around US $61 million
on snow making in the French Alps, US $1,005 million in
Austria, and US $415 million in Switzerland (Agrawala
If snowmaking is used to offset losses in natural snow
cover under climate change, then the investment in addi-
tional snowmaking infrastructure as calculated above
would be US $95.2 million (in 2008 dollars) over the next
decade, bringing the total to more than double the current
figure. Even without considering the increased costs of
running the snow guns, this represents an additional cost of
*US $5 per person per day, based on the average visita-
tion of 1.67 million winter visitors days per season to these
six resorts. If passed on directly to visitors, then this would
produce a noticeable but not prohibitive increase in prices.
This estimate does not include the increased cost of power
to run the snow guns, which would lead to further price
increases. Financial aspects, however, are not the only
barrier. There are also significant physical constraints,
notably the availability of water. These are considered
With the proposed increase in snowmaking under the ?1°C
scenario, by 2020, these six ski resorts would consume a
total of 10,000 ML of water over a 3–4 month season
(Table 2), i.e. 2,500–3,300 ML per month. For compari-
son, the average monthly water consumption in Canberra,
the Australian capital and the closest large city to the
resorts is about 2,800 ML per month (ACTEWAGL 2008).
Would such a huge increase for the resorts actually be
There prevails a strong competition from various
industry sectors for water from the Australian Alps. In
addition to tourism, water is in heavy and increasing
demand from irrigated agriculture, urban residential use,
power generation and a variety of other industrial uses.
Widespread droughts in south eastern Australia have
demonstrated clearly that water resources are a limiting
constraint on the regional economy. Under these circum-
stances, government and private water resources agencies
have two principal options: quotas or charges. Either way,
water prices are likely to increase to a level set by the
sector with the highest economic or political yield. Water
Fig. 3 Number of days with at least 1 cm snow cover for 20 sites in ski
resorts under current climatic conditions (xaxis), and for the same sites,
under a ?1°C scenario as predicted for 2020 (yaxis). The two
horizontal lines represent the threshold of 60–70 days snow cover that
is required for a viable skiing season. Data from Hennessey et al. (2003)
AMBIO (2010) 39:430–438 435
ÓRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010 123
for snowmaking will therefore become more expensive,
perhaps considerably so.
Water costs for ski resorts will be reduced if the
resorts can capture and re-use snowmelt runoff, and use
recycled water from accommodation and other facilities.
Resorts are indeed starting to use these approaches, but
they are unlikely to substitute completely for the con-
sumption of raw water from natural riverflow. Most of
the runoff from the Australian Alps is already captured
through a giant series of dams and diversions associated
with the Snowy Mountains Scheme, which generates
hydroelectric power and supplies irrigated agriculture in
drier inland regions. The Australian Alps lie largely
within national parks, and there are minimum ecological
streamflow requirements for conservation. Therefore,
resorts are unlikely to be able to obtain the large volumes
of water for snowmaking except by purchasing water in
competition with other sectors. Even then, they may not
be able to access enough water, as there is limited
waterflow in creeks to harvest. Water catchments in the
ski resorts in the Australian Alps are small relative to
those of Europe and North America.
Snowmaking requires electricity to operate pumps and
compressors, and energy costs will consequently increase
in line with water consumption (Agrawala 2007). In addi-
tion, energy prices in Australia are expected to increase
steeply for a variety of reasons, including decreased
availability of water for hydroelectric power generation,
and a variety of climate change mitigation measures. This
will further decrease the financial viability of snowmaking
as a strategy for ski resorts to adapt to climate change.
Current projections of short-term climate change indicate
that ski resorts in the Australian Alps will face several
simultaneous pressures over the next decade. If current
climate trends continue as projected under the ?1°C sce-
nario, many ski areas would fall below the minimum
financially viable threshold if they were to rely on natural
snowfall alone. Accordingly, they plan to increase reliance
on snowmaking. Our calculations here, however, show that
ski resorts may simply be unable to gain access to the
additional volumes of water which would be required; and
if at all they could, the costs of additional infrastructure,
water and electricity are likely to render ski operations
uneconomic. Their financial situation could also be exac-
erbated if higher prices and lower snow quality lead many
of their current clients to travel overseas to ski, or simply
ski less often.
The financial sensitivity of the Australian ski industry to
these effects can be gauged from the consequences of low-
snow years. Effectively, predicted climate change simply
equates to a higher proportion of low-snow years. During
the 2006 ski season, natural snowfall was at a 20-year low
(Green and Pickering 2009; Alpine Resorts Co-coordinat-
ing Council 2007), and the net incomes of ski resorts fell
heavily as visitor numbers decreased and operating costs
increased (Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort Management Board
2007; Falls Creek Alpine Resort Management Board 2007;
Mt Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board 2007;Mt
Buller and Mount Stirling Alpine Resort Management
Board 2007). For some resorts, this resulted in significantly
reduced profits, while for others it resulted in a loss (Mt
Baw Baw Alpine Resort Management Board 2007; Falls
Creek Alpine Resort Management Board 2007; Mt Hotham
Alpine Resort Management Board 2007; Mt Buller and
Mount Stirling Alpine Resort Management Board 2007).
Australia’s major ski resorts are operated by corporations
with a history of significant profits, a number of parallel
income streams, and large net financial assets, and so they
were able to weather the 2006 season relatively unscathed.
A series of such years in succession, however, could have
more serious financial consequences.
We reach these conclusions from publicly available
documents. If we can recognise the risks facing these
resorts and the shortcomings of snowmaking as the sole
response, then the ski resorts can certainly do likewise. In
fact, therefore, it seems highly unlikely that they are in
reality relying solely on snowmaking as a response to cli-
mate change. It seems more probable that whilst resorts do
indeed plan to increase snowmaking in the short term, they
may have other strategies for the longer term and may be
focussing on snowmaking principally as a political tool: to
gain access to additional water; to gain taxpayer-funded
government subsidies for new infrastructure and cheap
electricity; and to lobby for access to higher-altitude terrain
inside protected areas. In addition, it seems highly likely
that the higher-altitude resorts anticipate that their lower-
altitude competitors will be unable to continue operating
ski lifts, so that in the short term, visitor numbers at the
higher-altitude resorts may be boosted by a contraction of
the industry.
The most likely scenario, however, is that the Australian
ski resorts plan to follow the example of their North
American and European counterparts, and move their
business models away from winter ski-lift tickets as the
principal source of revenue, to year-round resort-based
activities and a focus on residential property sales and
associated retail activities. It appears that this shift has
already occurred at a number of European and North
American resorts (Scott and McBoyle 2007; Agrawala
2007; Scott et al. 2008), even though they have longer and
more reliable ski seasons than those of their Australian
436 AMBIO (2010) 39:430–438
123 ÓRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010
Visitor data indicate that many people visit the Austra-
lian Alps National Parks in summer as well as winter
(NIEIR 2006). Australia’s ski resorts are starting to capi-
talise on this. Currently, some of the major resorts close
down almost completely in summer. The key reason is that
since most of these resorts are inside or surrounded by
protected areas, they have limited legal scope for on-site
residential development, and most of their skier accom-
modation is in gateway towns outside the parks at lower
altitudes. These gateway towns do indeed provide tourist
accommodation and activities year-round, with high visitor
numbers in summer as well as winter. A small number of
the ski resorts such as those at Thredbo in NSW and Falls
Creek in Victoria do have accommodation on site and can
offer a variety of activities in summer. These resorts have
successfully made the transition to four-season mountain
resorts. Arguably, it is only planning restrictions on further
residential developments which limit their transition to
mountain resort-residential towns comparable to Aspen,
Banff or Chamonix. Residential developments close to ski
areas, such as Dinner Plains near Mount Hotham in Vic-
toria, seem to have been highly successful in economic
terms (Buckley et al. 2006).
We conclude, therefore, that whilst ski resorts are likely
to promote increased snowmaking as a short-term solution
to climate change, this is in fact financially realistic only
for the higher-altitude resorts. Those at lower altitude are
likely to lobby strongly to increase access to land for res-
idential subdivision and for high-cost summer tourist
activities such as golf and watersports. We can, therefore,
foresee a period of increasing contention between the
corporations which run ski resorts, and the public agencies
responsible for protected areas and water supplies. What-
ever the precise outcome, it seems likely to involve
increased social, economic and environmental costs. The
Australian ski industry thus provides an example of the
many indirect mechanisms by which human social
responses to climate change can generate more complex
impacts beyond the direct biophysical consequences of
changing temperatures and precipitation.
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Catherine Marina Pickering (&) is an associate professor at the
International Centre for Ecotourism Research (ICER), Griffith Uni-
versity. She has published extensively in the fields of recreation
ecology, climate change, alpine ecology and park management with
over 140 publications including more than 60 refereed papers.
Address: International Centre for Ecotourism Research, Griffith
University, Gold Coast, QLD 4222, Australia.
Ralf C. Buckley is the Director of ICER. He has *750 publications
including 15 books and 190 refereed articles on ecotourism, and
environmental management. His current research focus is on tourism,
conservation and climate change.
Address: International Centre for Ecotourism Research, Griffith
University, Gold Coast, QLD 4222, Australia.
438 AMBIO (2010) 39:430–438
123 ÓRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010
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Water is at the forefront of climate change and is seen as a major channel through which the effects of climate change are felt. The function of water heritage is closely related to the water bodies on which it depends. Under climate change, the conservation and tourism uses of water heritage resources are facing impacts and challenges. Taking the Beijing Section of the Grand Canal of China as a case, this research applied the adaptation theory to explore the impacts of climate change on heritage tourism of the section of the Grand Canal in Beijing. It was identified that changes in the temperature and the precipitation formed climate-related stimuli to tourism along the Canal from 2012 to 2021 in Beijing. Second, from the supply side of tourism, policies were formulated at a national or municipal level to respond to the changing climate and its impacts on the Canal and its tourism uses. Natural-based solutions (NbS) have been applied to rehabilitate the ecosystem of the Canal, contributing to the enhanced tourism landscape, and providing opportunities for ecological education. Third, from the demand side, high tourism participation along the Canal was examined during the high-temperature years. Meanwhile, the increasing tourist needs for water spaces and activities were observed with evident seasonal patterns. Accordingly, suggestions for climate adaptation of the Grand Canal from a tourism perspective were proposed. For heritage conservation, actions of ecological restoration and monitoring should be further implemented. To assist in the climate adaptation and sustainable development of Grand Canal tourism, suggestions are proposed to enhance the overall tourism planning, increase water accessibility, and heritage interpretation for tourists.
... Their energy consumptions (and costs) have greatly increased in the last 40 years due to several reasons. First, snow production and grooming demands have increased both for climate change effects ( Pickering & Buckley, 2010 ) in the regions (such as ( Viesi, et al., 2020 ) in the Province of Trento) and valleys (such as ( Mahbub et al., 2016 ) in the Giudicarie Esteriori and ( Mahbub, et al., 2017 ) in the Val di Non) of the European Alps. However, strategies at these scales often lack a focus on the specific solutions to be implemented in a ski resort, including detailed consideration of sustainability and management guidelines. ...
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... Scott et al., 2007b;Steiger & St€ otter, 2013). Limited water availability and potential water-use conflicts have already been recognized (Pickering & Buckley, 2010;Hoogendoorn et al., 2021) and were addressed by two studies on the catchment scale (Vanham et al., 2009;Gerbaux et al., 2020). Analysis of water losses (7-35%) during snowmaking due to wind drift and sublimation (Grunewald & Wolfsperger, 2019) suggest that climate change impact assessments likely underestimated snowmaking water demand as water losses have so far not been considered in those assessments. ...
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Mountain landscapes and communities are highly sensitive and vulnerable to climate change. Tourism in mountain regions is highly dependent on natural resources and attractions which are very sensitive to climatic changes. This systematic review analyzing 276 papers, provides a comprehensive analysis of scientific literature dealing with climate change impacts on mountain tourism. While the impacts on the snow season are predominantly negative, impacts to summer season activities range from positive to negative. Contradictory results and lack of research in some regions and tourism activities means the overall impact is far from clear. We identified seven key knowledge gaps: underrepresentation of studies for South America and Africa, lack of appropriate data and indicators, an all-season perspective and investigation of opportunities, economic and socio-political consequences for mountain communities, the need for better science communication, and a lack of studies addressing liability and regulatory risks. Increasing our multidisciplinary understanding of potential climate impacts on mountain tourism and engaging stakeholders to prepare for the projected changes will help local populations in mountain communities create applicable and effective climate adaptation strategies.
... Furthermore, 'pistes grooming' is more important for skiers in summer. The underlying reason may be relevant to artificial snow-making in high-temperature seasons [108]. ...
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Knowing how to improve skiers’ experiences in ski resorts is vital for developing the ski industry. This study aims to provide a holistic understanding of the key attributes of skiers’ experiences and explore them in the context of seasonality. Based on the user-generated content of 14 ski resorts and the topic modelling and sentiment analysis method, a framework of skiing experience attributes was built. Compared with the seasonal data, the dynamic of skiers’ concerns and perceived performance was revealed. The skiers’ concerns in peak seasons and off seasons manifested different orientations. The results show that the relatively important attributes tend to have relatively low performance in the peak seasons. In off seasons, skiers emphasise non-skiing-oriented attributes. This study showcases that skier’s interests and evaluations of various experience attributes vary with seasons. The findings help to understand the skiers’ peak and supporting experiences, which could be used to build ski resorts management and seasonal hedging strategies.
... A fundamental part of the literature focuses on the consequences that climate change will have on the tourism season in winter destinations, for example, ski resorts, in different areas of the world [32,33] and on how these destinations can counteract it [34,35]. This theme is sensitive due to the importance and the magnitude of the economic revenue on the local communities. ...
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Within the tourism sector, sustainability has been studied widely at different levels and with different lenses. In the last few years, many research activities have been carried out to assess the social dimension of tourism. Under this perspective, scholars have focused on the accessibility of the tourism and hospitality sectors. This study represents the first-ever attempt to assess how tourists’ physical handicaps or special needs are considered in a very specific kind of accommodation facility: the mountain hut. To do so, semi-structured interviews were conducted with mountain hut managers about four mountain huts—29% of all the mountain huts located in Gran Paradiso National Park, the first established Italian protected area. The results underline both strong and critical points. Considering that many mountain huts are located in severe environments (e.g., medium-high altitudes and reachable only on foot), they have limitations in hosting visitors with physical constraints, who, on the other hand, normally do not attend this kind of facility. By contrast, all of the mountain hut managers were able to satisfy visitors with special food needs, for example, vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free, showing their capability to cope with new forms of tourism demands and expectations.
... A second important remark is related to the daily expenditure of ski tourists, which is almost double than the trekking tourists' one (€43 vs €23, Table 3), in line with previous findings (Fredman, 2008;Witting & Schmude, 2019). Although more spending does not necessarily translate into higher value-added, as ski activities have higher operational costs (Pickering & Buckley, 2010;Scott et al., 2006), this comparison highlights that the economic sustainability of projects based on nature and slow tourism also depends on the expenditure pattern of tourists. Most trekkers and other non-skiers spend very little money on the territory, and, in extreme cases, daily trekkers might stay the whole day in the 3M area without spending, if a packed lunch is brought from home. ...
This study outlines a methodological procedure for assessing the economic impact of alternative territorial development projects in small areas by investigating the Regional Park of Corno alle Scale, in Northern Apennines, Italy. This is a Marginal and Mature Mountain (3M) destination suffering from displacement and population ageing since the 1980s and now attempting to regenerate its economy through tourism-based development projects. This process requires a prior understanding of the tourism impact on the local economy and the tourists’ behavioural intentions and attitudes, both issues addressed by this paper. Findings from a visitors’ survey undertaken in 2019-20 are merged with Input-Output tables to build a local Tourism Satellite Account, enabling to estimate the contribution of tourism to the local economy. This way, the economic impact of alternative development projects can be assessed, thus informing policy-makers on investments that can reshape local development but endanger natural and sociocultural resources.
The first text to demonstrate how to actively persuade guests to participate in achieving sustainable hospitality.
Within the ski industry, the production of artificial snow, product diversification, and year-round operation are the three most popular climate change adaptation strategies resorts already apply. The opinions on these of different parties involved in local tourism development are crucial for the overall success of climate change adaptation in a destination. The paper identifies and analyses similarities and differences in various stakeholders’ perceptions towards these adaptation scenarios in the ski resort of Pamporovo, Bulgaria. Three stakeholder groups are subjected to study: (1) tourists, (2) representatives of the local tourism industry and authorities, and (3) local population. A mixed method approach is applied comprising questionnaire-based surveys of tourists and residents, with similar questions allowing for direct comparison, and interviews conducted with key local business and authority representatives. Results clearly indicate that the strategy most preferred by local tourism business – artificial snow production – is not one-sidedly perceived by customers and residents. Most tourists would want the resort to demonstrate its own unique atmosphere, combined with a variety of activities and year-round operation. The strategies for product diversification and all-year operation are even wider supported by residents since these would create permanent employment opportunities. However, their implementation is questioned by local business representatives. Considering the perceptions found in the study, none of the three strategies can be efficient on its own. A balanced approach of combining different adaptation strategies should be taken to achieve sustainable adaptation to all sorts of crises, not only limited to climate change.
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Previous research demonstrated Northern Sweden may have a future competitive climatic advantage over the European Alps for ski tourism, yet knowledge of climate change risk perceptions, adaptation, and mitigation strategies undertaken by the Swedish ski industry remains limited. This study combined top-down ski season modelling and bottom-up semi-structured interviews with Swedish ski industry stakeholders to examine changing market dynamics, climate change risk perceptions, and current and future adaptations under the backdrop of Sweden’s potential climatic advantage. Findings indicate that despite a belief of having greater climate change recognition and preparedness than other international ski regions, stakeholders were reticent to link local conditions to anthropogenic climate change. Snowmaking was the most utilised adaptation option, and consistent with other regions was not explicitly seen as a climate change adaptation rather a prudent business decision. A gap between tourists’ demand for increased resort sustainability and the actions of resorts was also evident in several locations. Market dynamics are also considered as capitalising on Sweden’s potential climatic advantage will likely necessitate increased aviation travel and associated emissions, a potential barrier to the country’s ability to become a ‘last resort’ for European skiing due to Sweden’s ambitious, legally binding net-zero policy target of 2045.
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Due to the vulnerability of winter tourism to climate change an increased production of technical snow is anticipated in future. This paper focuses on the impact of snowmaking as a water demand stakeholder on a regional water balance (water resources-water demand), both in the present day and a climate change scenario situation. Two regions around the famous ski resorts of Kitzbühel and Sölden in the Austrian Province of Tyrol have been analysed. Based upon certain assumptions it can be shown no threat exists to any water demand stakeholder within these alpine areas on a regional basis today or in nearby future.
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Climate change has already affected and will continue to affect physical and biological systems in many parts of the world. For example, annual snow cover extent in the northern hemisphere has decreased by about 10% since 1966, and in Sweden, the last decade was wetter and warmer than the preceding 30-year period. These changes will affect many aspects of utilisation patterns that are dependent on the physical environment, such as alpine winter tourism. In this paper, we discuss the future development of the downhill skiing industry in Sweden. We first review trends in alpine winter tourism in relation to climate change together with regional projections of climate change. Secondly, we examine trends in climate parameters relevant to alpine winter tourism in Sweden during the last 30 years. Thirdly, we take these parameters, together with regional projections of climate change, and predict effects on the number of skiing days in order to estimate the monetary loss for the skiing industry in Sweden. The analyses show predicted losses that are larger than current ski-ticket sales. Adaptation strategies such as the development of year-round tourist activities should be developed as soon as possible.
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This paper examines the impacts of three consecutive snow-deficient winters at the end of the 1980s on the winter tourism industry in Switzerland. It is shown that ski areas in lower areas suffered severe consequences. Ski areas at higher altitudes (in particular glacier ski resorts) on the other hand increased their transport figures and therefore profited from the lack of snow in lower areas. The snow-reliability of all Swiss ski fields under current climate conditions and under a 2"C warming are investigated. Under current climate conditions 85% of all Swiss ski areas are snow-reliable. This number would drop to 63% if temperatures were to rise by 2"C. This is likely to threaten the regionally balanced economic growth which winter tourism has provided. Possible strategies for the winter tourism industry to adopt if climate change occurs are presented.
Maximum winter snow depth at Spencers Creek in the Snowy Mountains of southeastern Australia has decreased somewhat since 1962, but the snow depth in spring has declined strongly (by about 40 per cent). The stronger decrease in spring snow depth is largely attributable to warming during July-September. The slight decline in precipitation that has been observed during this season is too weak to account for the decline in snow depth. Interannual variations in regional surface air pressure are closely related to snow depth, but there is only a weak trend in pressure and this trend is insufficient to account for the decline in spring snow depth. Thus the warming that is the proximate cause of the decline in spring snow depth is not simply reflecting a change in the synoptic patterns. In the light of recent studies implicating the enhanced greenhouse effect in the warming trend over Australia, the results of this study suggest that the Australian alpine region may already be experiencing significant effects of greenhouse climate change.
This report assesses the implications of climate change on winter tourism and natural hazards management in the European Alps, with a particular focus on how these activities can adapt to climate change. The report presents the first systematic cross-country analysis of the effects of climate change on snow-reliability in the European Alps. It also examines the implications of climate change for a range of natural hazards prevalent in the Alps, with a particular focus on frameworks and financial mechanisms to manage natural hazards in three countries: France, Switzerland and Austria. Technological and behavioural adaptation measures, together with institutional structures and risk transfer mechanisms, are also reviewed.
Skiing heavily relies on specific weather and environmental conditions to make participation both feasible and enjoyable. The lack of published research on the relationships among ski activity, weather, and climate is, therefore, surprising, especially in light of mounting evidence regarding climate change. The analyses of the influence of daily weather variations on daily ski lift ticket sales at two Michigan ski resorts presented here appear to be the first of their kind. Results suggest that weather variables such as minimum and maximum temperature, snow depth, and wind chill do indeed have a statistically significant impact on downhill ski lift ticket sales. The regression models developed could be used by outdoor recreation and tourism providers for both short-term decision making and longer-term planning and management activities, in particular those involving consideration of climate change and potential adaptation strategies.