Are snowy winters destined to exist only as a memory?

·2-min read
Within 60 years, some mountain ranges in the western United States could be almost completely devoid of snow.

Will some ski resorts have to close permanently due to lack of snow in the coming decades? That's what may happen in some parts of the world, including the western United States, according to predictions by American scientists.

Within 60 years' time, some mountain ranges in the western United States could be almost completely devoid of snow for years if global greenhouse gas emissions are not rapidly reduced. That's the conclusion of a recent study in Nature Reviews Earth and Environment .

The research was based on multi-year observations of the snowpack in mountains of the western United States, including the Sierra Nevada range in California and Cascade in Colorado. It is estimated that these mountains have already lost 20% of their snowpack since the 1950s and that this could drop by another 25% by 2050.

The consequences of this loss of snow go beyond just the prospect of being deprived of the joys of winter sports. "Diminished and more ephemeral snowpacks that melt earlier will alter groundwater and streamflow dynamics," warn the researchers behind the publication.

The lack of snow could also impact California's forests, which are prone to major wildfires each year and could face greater difficulties in restoring themselves due to the lack of snow, which is a valuable aid to vegetation.

This gradual disappearance under the effects of climate change does not only concern the United States, but all snow zones of the planet. So much so that many ski resorts, in several regions including that hosting the upcoming Winter Olympics, are resorting to the use of "artificial snow," which consists in favoring the production of "white powder" thanks to "snow cannons" that generally work with a mixture of cooled water and compressed air.

However, the production of artificial snow raises questions from an environmental point of view, insofar as it requires a significant consumption of water (it would take approximately 1 cubic meter of water to obtain 2 cubic meters of snow).

Léa Drouelle

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting