Climate change and skiing holidays:

What it means to the general holiday maker

Whether you ‘believe’ in Climate Change, it is a fact that weather patterns are changing. In the Alps snow lines and glaciers are retreating and snow is arriving later. This has a direct impact on holiday makers, and in particular the winter sports industry, which depends on reliable snowfall and consistent cold temperatures. Despite the general trend, there are a few ways that you can ensure your skiing holiday is future proof, guarantee yourself good snow and help ensure generations to come will be able to enjoy their own skiing holidays.

Your skiing holiday and climate change

‘Alternate Facts’ aside, the climate is changing in a way that is directly felt in ski resorts. It’s no coincidence that the snow has been arriving later in the season in some Alpine resorts, and even with no El Nino this winter (2016-17) the North Pole temperatures have once again had highs of 0OC during the time of permanent darkness (it happened in 2015-16 too, but that was attributed to a strong El Nino event). So, in this time of change how do you ensure reliable skiing conditions?

The simplest answer is to head either to high altitudes or high latitudes (that’s further north for those of us in the northern hemisphere).

High Altitude Skiing

Air temperature decreases with altitude, allowing water to cool and freeze so that it falls as snow on the mountain tops. Our first suggestion for reliable snow is to head somewhere high, and if it is high enough to have a glacier then that is even better. The downside to this option is that the glacier resorts of the Alps are already some of the busiest for precisely this reason. Not to mention that Alpine glaciers are retreating, a trend that is expected to continue and accelerate unless significant steps are taken to reduce carbon outputs. The other options for high mountains are Canada or America (north or south) where the mountains are high and the slopes still relatively quiet. If the long-haul flight isn’t for you then we suggest you take the other option and head north.

High Latitudes: Skiing close to the Arctic.

The other way to ensure low temperatures and guarantee that your precipitation falls as snow is to head north. If the long-haul flight to Canada puts you off, then your ideal alternative is Scandinavia. While the mountains of Scandinavia don’t tend to be as high as in the Alps, their northerly position means that the average temperature is lower. This means they can – and do – guarantee a certain number of slopes will be open. Even in winter 2015-16, when some Scandinavia ski resorts had the worst start to the winter in more than 10 years, the ski resorts were still able to meet their snow guarantees because the nightly temperatures dropped below zero, which allowed snow machines to continue producing man-made snow. That’s the worst-case scenario; this year things returned to normal and many of the Scandinavian ski resorts opened for their first skiing in November, and intend to stay open until the start of May.

How to reduce your impact.

Of course, even the northerly hills of Scandinavia are not immune to the impacts of climate change and the best way to ensure your children and grandchildren can enjoy skiing across a host of locations is to help reduce your carbon impact. Below we share 4 ideas on how to reduce/balance your carbon footprint so you can enjoy your skiing holiday with a lighter conscience.

How to lighten your carbon footprint?

Consider off-setting your carbon footprint by supporting a carbon off-setting project.
Contributing toward planting trees is one of the most common options and has other environmental benefits such as habitat maintenance and green space protection. Supporting low-energy social projects is another good option and often has additional benefits to society, for example, replacement of old boilers, cookers or light bulbs with new energy efficient ones has knock on effects to the health and wellbeing of that community.

Consider your own energy efficiency.
Switching to low energy light bulbs, upgrading your old boiler, carpooling and/or biking to work have benefits to your health and wallet, as well as the environment. You can even use your savings towards trips or excursions during your holiday that help local businesses – husky sledding and reindeer sleigh rides are a great low energy addition to any ski holiday.

Buy locally produced and seasonal produce.
Buying local and seasonal can help significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your weekly shop. Remember to check where things have been packaged as well, the apples from the farm next door are just as bad as the ones from elsewhere if they’ve been flown abroad to be packaged. Supporting local businesses while you’re on holiday also helps your chosen destination, giving them extra income to invest in their own low impact developments.

Try mixing up your holiday styles.
If you fly to your annual skiing holiday, maybe consider mixing up your summer holiday and try something local. Britain has a host of stunning locations for family holidays, romantic breaks and stunning selection of gastronomic hotels and restaurants (I’ve even hear rumour that sometimes it’s sunny). Still prefer to go abroad? Why not experiment with somewhere in driving distance, Denmark is a stunning country and is great for a whole host of holiday styles.

The opinions contained in this post are those of the person who wrote the blog and not of skiScandinavia or Scandinavian Travel Ltd. The author has completed university level study of Climate Change and reserves the right to a difference of opinion.

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