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Fresh Warning on Alpine Snow Levels

A new study claims the number of snow days where snow lies on the ground in the Alps will halve by 2100 if greenhouse emissions remain high. Mountain seasonal snow cover is undergoing major changes due to global climate change, but action can be taken. NEW

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Mountains at 2,500m will lose 76 days – that’s nearly three months of snow days.

At lower altitudes snow days will almost disappear with an average of just five snow days per  year at 500m.

The southern Alps will be particularly badly hit with serious implications for water availability downstream.

The full study is published in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.

Currently there is the worst drought for 70 years in much of Italy, including the Alps and the Dolomites, after snow levels were down 70% last winter.

The problem has been increased by little, if any, rainfall since winter ended.

We have reported on it earlier on PlanetSKI:

The study claims the current situation in Italy will become increasingly common in areas fed by winter snowfall.

It is not too late for action though.

The study shows that widespread emission cuts that would be inline with the Paris agreement would save more than 80% of snow days in the Alps.

Mountain regions store large amounts of precipitation in the form of snow and ice which provide essential water supply for downstream regions.

An estimated quarter of humanity rely on water from mountain areas.

“Global warming has resulted in significant changes of the cryosphere, with melting glaciers and shifts in the timing and abundance of snow,” said the report.

Last winter across the Alps there were generally poor levels of snowfall.

Skiing continued with help from artificial snow, plus huge advances in snow management and grooming.

Many resorts will likely come to rely more on this technology if climate change continues.

Austrian Alps. Image © PlanetSKI

Austrian Alps. Image © PlanetSKI

Austrian Alps. Image © PlanetSKI

Austrian Alps. Image © PlanetSKI

 

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