Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Heat Is on Resorts as Winters Grow Milder

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Heat Is on Resorts as Winters Grow Milder

Article excerpt

As local and regional snow-dependent resorts experience their second consecutive early season of warm and rainy weather, a new report said there will be more of the same "unless climate change is slowed, stopped and reversed."

The warning is contained in "Climate Impacts on the Winter Tourism Economy in the United States" by University of New Hampshire researchers Elizabeth Murkowski and Matthew Magnusson.

They prepared the report for the National Resources Defense Council, an international nonprofit environmental organization, and Protect Out Winters, a nonprofit that describes itself as "the environmental center point of the winter sports community."

The 34-page report looks at current snow conditions and the projected impact of climate change on skiing, snowboarding and the snowmobile industry.

It said the $12.2 billion winter tourism industry spread across 38 states "has experienced an estimated $1 billion loss and up to 27,000 fewer jobs over the past decade due to diminished snowfall patterns and the resulting changes in the outdoor habits of Americans.

"Shrinking numbers of winter sports tourists also hurts the bottom line of restaurants, lodging, gas stations, grocery stores and bars," the report said.

"Without intervention, winter temperatures are projected to warm an additional 4-10 degrees by the end of the century, with subsequent decreases in snow cover area, snowfall and shorter snow seasons. Snow depths could decline in the west by 25-100 percent.

The authors said the impact of less snow and fewer people on the slopes "is already apparent across the United States. December 2011 through February 2012 was the fourth-warmest winter on record since 1896, and the third-lowest snow cover extent since 1966, when satellites began tracking snow cover."

They said local and regional resorts weren't the only ones that experienced snow-short seasons a year ago. …

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