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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-253
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-253
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 20 Dec 2018

Research article | 20 Dec 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Winter tourism and climate change in the Pyrenees and the French Alps: relevance of snowmaking as a technical adaptation

Pierre Spandre1,2, Hugues François1, Deborah Verfaillie2, Marc Pons3, Matthieu Vernay2, Matthieu Lafaysse2, Emmanuelle George1, and Samuel Morin2 Pierre Spandre et al.
  • 1Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Irstea, UR LESSEM, Grenoble, France
  • 2Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Université de Toulouse, Météo-France, CNRS, CNRM, Centre d'Études de la Neige, Grenoble, France
  • 3Snow and Mountain Research Center of Andorra, Andorra

Abstract. Climate change is increasingly regarded as a threat for winter tourism due to the combined effect of decreasing natural snow amounts and decreasing suitable periods for snowmaking. The present work investigated the snow reliability of 175 ski resorts in France (Alps and Pyrenees), Spain and Andorra under past and future conditions using state-of-the-art snowpack modelling and climate projections. The natural snow reliability (i.e. without snowmaking) elevation showed a significant spatial variability in the reference period (1986–2005) and to be highly impacted by the on-going climate change. The technical reliability (i.e. including snowmaking) is projected to rise by 200 m to 300 m in the Alps and by 400 m to 600 m in the Pyrenees in the near future (2030–2050) compared to the reference period for all climate scenarios. While 99 % of ski lift infrastructures are reliable in the reference period thanks to snowmaking, a significant fraction (14 % to 25 %) may be considered "at risk" in the near future. Beyond the mid century, climate projections highly depend on the scenario with steady conditions compared to the near future (RCP 2.6) or continuous decrease of snow reliability (RCP 8.5). According to the "business as usual" scenario (RCP 8.5), there would no longer be any snow reliable ski resorts based on natural snow conditions in French Alps and Pyrenees (France, Spain and Andorra) at the end of the century (2080–2100). Only 24 resorts are projected to remain technically reliable, all being located in the Alps.

Pierre Spandre et al.
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Short summary
The present work investigated the snow reliability of 175 ski resorts in France (Alps and Pyrenees), Spain and Andorra under past and future conditions using state-of-the art snowpack modelling and climate projections. The past and future snow reliability of ski resorts in the French Alps and Pyrenees is highly variable, the present investigation showing the relevance of considering local situations rather than general conclusions.
The present work investigated the snow reliability of 175 ski resorts in France (Alps and...
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