Several countries in Europe have had record-breaking warm January weather, with some climate scientists warning of more incidents of such anomalous heatwaves in the future due to global warming.
Unseasonably warm winter weather has had alpine communities from Chamonix, France, to Innsbruck, Austria, in a tizzy: the ski resorts are facing an acute lack of snow.
Some holiday resorts dependent on winter sports in the Alps have opted to reopen summer biking trails instead of catering to winter activities. Ski lifts stand idle amid grassy slopes conspicuously deficient of their traditional sparkling cover.
Temperatures on the north side of the Alps were worthy of June, said MeteoSwiss, Switzerland’s national weather and climate service.
The resort of Splügen in Switzerland, at an altitude of 1,500m, was forced to shut down operations until further notice. While some of the highest resorts are still open, they increasingly rely on snow cannons to churn out artificial snow.
However, even with fake snow, skiing during the Christmas holidays may no longer be a sure-fire guarantee, a new study revealed, pointing to global warming processes.
As coming decades bring more precipitation in winter, it will take the shape of rain, not snow, a research team led by Dr. Erika Hiltbrunner from the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Basel calculated.
Studying data on various ski slopes of Switzerland’s largest ski resort – Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis – and juxtaposing it with the latest climate change scenarios, they used SkiSim 2.0 simulation software for projections of future snow conditions.
Artificial snow can guarantee a 100-day ski season at altitudes of at least 1,800 meters and above, revealed the findings, published in the International Journal of Biometeorology.
However, maintaining the ski resorts will come at a high price, they added, as water consumption for snow cannons will surge by about 80%.
The developments come as several European countries, including the Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belarus, Lithuania, and Latvia all registered some of the warmest January weather ever recorded, according to meteorological reports.
For example, in Javorník, the Czech Republic, the temperature reached 19.6 Celsius, as compared with an average of 3 Celsius typical for this time of year.
According to meteorologists, warm air masses originated off the west coast of Africa, only to sweep north-east across Europe, dragged in by high pressure over the Mediterranean.
Looking ahead, most climate scientists predict that instances of anomalously warm weather will grow more frequent due to global warming.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2023.