Science and TechClimate Change


US ski industry lost over $5B in past 20 years due to climate change

A study found that the average ski season has shortened by five to seven days, and it is projected that the season could shorten by 14 to 62 days.
A skier puts skins on his skis before heading into the backcountry.
Posted at 2:13 PM, Mar 06, 2024

Human-caused climate change has harmed the ski industry across all four of the U.S. regions, costing the industry an average of $252 million a year due to decreased revenue and higher snowmaking costs.

A study from the University of Innsbruck and the University of Waterloo found that the average ski season has shortened by five to seven days. Decades of human greenhouse gas emissions have influenced unusually warm winters, causing less than half the usual snowpack and attributing this reduction to it.

“We are probably past the era of peak ski seasons,” Robert Steiger, professor of economics at the University of Innsbruck, said in a press release. “Average ski seasons in all US regional markets [Northeast, Midwest, the Rockies and the Pacific West] are projected to get shorter in the decades ahead under all emission futures. How much shorter is dependent on the ability of all countries to deliver on their Paris Climate Agreement emission reduction commitments.”

The study says that over the last two decades, human-caused climate change has cost the U.S. ski industry over $5 billion. Researchers project that by the 2050s, despite the U.S. having some of the most advanced snowmaking equipment, ski seasons are expected to shorten by 14 to 33 days if we lower emissions use and by 27 to 62 days with high emissions use. This could double industry losses to $657 million a year under low emissions or raise the losses to $1.3 billion a year under high emissions.

“Climate change is an evolving business reality for the ski industry and the tourism sector. The record-breaking temperatures this winter provided a preview of the future. It tested the limits of snowmaking in many areas and altered the ski visits and destination choices of millions of skiers,” says professor in the department of geography and environmental management Daniel Scott.

This study comes as we experienced some of the hottest days ever recorded. 

Last year became the hottest yearin 100,000 years due to record greenhouse gases, and 2024 started with the warmest January on record globally.

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