TLDR: warmer, drier summers. More precipitation and less snowfall in winter. That’s what climate experts are expecting in Austria if we don’t sort out the problem. So what are the impacts for Austria and in particular, the ski resorts? Here’s a short thought experiment.
The plight of the “no snow” resorts has been widely reported by both the international and local press. If you want a sneak-peek into what a future with climate change might look like in Austria and places that depend on snow for economic and other reasons, the situation in the alpine ski resorts offers a great opportunity to run a thought experiment.
So let’s think about what’s happening: with much of Europe experiencing record high temperatures, we’re seeing one climate scenario playing out. That scenario is one in which Alpine regions in Austria get more precipitation in winter, but reduced snowfall. So far, so obvious.
So what are the impacts of this if it continues?
1/ In lower altitude resorts, winter tourism may soon be a thing of the past, especially if that tourism centres around skiing and snow. This means that there will be less money moving around the region, fewer and less reliable jobs, and economic hardship for those dependent on winter tourism for their livelihoods.
2/ Alternatively, or in parallel, some regions will depend ever-more heavily on generating artificial snow. This might solve the economic challenges temporarily, but snow cannons need a lot of resources: energy, water, money. Being too dependent on these resources could contribute to water stress and without adequate green energy sources, loads of emissions. Which lead to summer droughts, and increased temperatures as CO2 and other emissions are added to the atmosphere.
This is just one example of how climate change is affecting us right here in Austria and in many parts of the northern hemisphere. That’s because it’s a global problem with local consequences.