Global Warming Poses Threat to Ski Resorts in the Alps:
As for the broader threat of global warming, townspeople react with a mixture of fatalism and mild skepticism to studies like the one coordinated by Austria’s Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, which says the Alps have not been this warm since the eighth century.
Mrs. Kramheller-Reisch, whose great-grandfather introduced skiing to Kitzbühel in the 19th century, cited a letter her grandfather wrote in the 1920s, in which he said farmers could not haul wood from the mountains down to the village because there was no snow for their sleds.
While she does not dispute the inevitability of global warming, Mrs. Kramheller-Reisch, 51, said that for the ski industry in Austria, “This is not going to be a problem in our lifetimes.”
Climatologists, however, say the warming trend will become dramatic by 2020. The new studies are alarming, suggesting that the Alps are warming twice as fast as the average in the rest of the world. In 1980, 75 percent of Alpine glaciers were advancing; now, 90 percent are retreating.
Reinhard Böhm, a meteorologist who worked on the study of Alpine temperatures, said one explanation for the disparity was the region’s location in the middle of the European continent, far from any oceans, which react more moderately to global warming trends.
Temperatures in the Alps began heating up around 1980, Mr. Böhm said, after an uncommonly cool period that started in 1950. This coincided with the major development of the European ski industry.
Despite the evidence of rapid change, Mr. Böhm said there was little talk of how to prepare for global warming in the resorts. “Nobody in ski tourism plans out further than 10 years,” he said. “If you ask people whether they are interested in the climate in 50 years, they say no.”
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