Last February, artificial ski slopes installed in China for the Winter Olympics, which were held in a region where there is not much snow, irritated the whole planet. Since then, sports such as alpine skiing have been forced to cancel many events due to a lack of snow. All winter sports understand that they cannot last forever and this is an important area of tourism and sports activity that is in danger of collapsing soon if nothing changes.
“Just” a bad year?
Is the 2022-3023 season particularly bad for winter sports, or should we expect such scenarios to repeat themselves year after year? According to UCLouvain glaciologist Marie Cavitte, we will have to get used to all this, as she explains to our colleagues from RTBF: “Unfortunately, the latest IPCC report made it clear that we should not expect improvement. An increase in temperature and precipitation is predicted in the future. As the temperature rises, we will expect more rain in particular. There will be no going back. »
So if you have to get used to the fact that the mountains in the Alps or the Pyrenees are not brown and white, ski enthusiasts still hope to be able to rely on snowballs to practice their favorite sports. But there is a shoe pinch again. Because this solution, which we know is extremely polluting, only delays the problem. In addition, these machines work only when the air temperature does not exceed -2ºC, otherwise they cannot make up for the lack of natural snow. The experts are very clear: skiing is doomed to disappear and therefore we will have to find other solutions to continue enjoying skiing.
How to save this sector?
After this observation, it seems that the winter sports sector needs to completely renew itself if it wants to survive. Resorts have realized this and now offer many activities besides skiing to allow tourists to enjoy their experience in the mountains even when it is not snowing. Without sorting, you can indulge in a Nordic walk to explore the mountains in a different way, learn about snowshoeing, mountain climbing, or sled dog sledding. Snow or snow, you can always enjoy the charm of the high altitude villages and of course a good raclette.
Marie Cavitte reminds us that this ecosystem is and always will be mass tourism, which affects global warming as it does everywhere else in the world. Therefore, the evolution of this sector undoubtedly requires the evolution of its mode of operation. Because in addition to snowballs, to name a few, it’s important to remember that snowplows account for 60% of an area’s carbon emissions.
Let’s go skiing bye?
It’s hard to imagine that we can talk about ski vacations as a distant memory to future generations. However, it seems almost inevitable. Perhaps the transition has already begun in our resorts, but what they currently offer still seems too timid to attract tourists, even when they can’t ski. If there are still a lot of snow sports in some countries, we have to accept that in 10-20 years there will be no skiing in France. It remains to be seen whether an entire socio-economic sector will collapse or whether the resorts will be able to make the transition to becoming an attractive destination for tourists from Belgium and elsewhere.
Better predictions in 2023?
On a planetary scale, according to the World Meteorological Organization, 2022 will be the fifth or sixth hottest year on a planetary scale since observations made in the 1860s. The forecast does not look better in 2023, as the planet will depend on humidity. warm current “El Nino” and cooled last year for a climate phenomenon called “La Nina”. It’s too early to know if snow will hit the slopes later next year, but 2023 could break all records once again.
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