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The Alps are losing their snow

Oct 18, 2016
A recently published study shows that winters are ever shorter and the amount of snow is decreasing. The main reason for long winters becoming more and more a thing of the past is the earlier spring thaw.
Image caption:
The Alps are losing their snow, yet at the same time there is more and more investment in classical winter tourism. © bookhouse boy/flickr

Climate warming is apparent even at higher altitudes, as a recent study by the University of Neuenburg and the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research at the Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape shows. Researchers analysed data from eleven weather stations in Switzerland located at around 1100 to 2500 metres above sea level. The results clearly demonstrate that the snowy season at all stations today begins on average twelve days later and ends approximately 25 days earlier than 45 years ago. This means an average of 37 days less snow cover in winter. The maximum quantity of snow has also decreased by one quarter. There is thus not only snow for a shorter period, but also less snow altogether.
At the same time winter sports areas across the Alps are investing in the expansion of cable cars, lift systems and ski pistes, as CIPRA recently stated at a media conference in Innsbruck, Austria. But it is not only tourism that is affected by this development: less snow means less meltwater, so the quantity of water available for society and ecosystems in summer is reduced.

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