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How will climate change impact skiing in Eastern Canada and the US?

In this paper potential climate change impacts are examined at 171 ski areas in Ontario, Québec and the US Northeast using the SkiSim2 model with regional parameterizations of snowmaking capacity. With advanced snowmaking, mid-century season length losses are limited to 12–13% under a low emission pathway (RCP 4.5), increasing to 15–22% under high emissions (RCP 8.5). By late-century, low and high emission pathways diverge creating very different futures for the ski industry. Season length and skiable terrain losses increase only marginally in the low emission pathway, while transformational impacts occur under a high emission pathway, with only 29 ski areas in Québec and high-elevation areas of the US Northeast able to maintain a 100-day season and open regularly for the economically important Christmas-New Year holiday. A low emission future, where current national pledges to Paris Climate Agreement are achieved, is crucial to preserve the Eastern North America ski tourism marketplace. The results are compared with previous studies that have neglected the adaptive capacity of snowmaking and substantially overestimated the impact of mid-century and lower emission climate change scenarios.

CITE: Scott, D., Steiger, R., Knowles, N. & Fang, Y. (2020). Regional ski tourism risk to climate change: An inter-comparison of Eastern Canada and US Northeast markets, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 28(4), 568-586


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