Artificial Snow Could Have Devastating Effects On Climate

Posted: Mar 2 2018, 12:43pm CST | by , Updated: Mar 2 2018, 1:10pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

Artificial Snow Could have Devastating Effects on Climate
Ski resorts are often dependent on artificial snow from snow cannons

Experts criticize the use of local water and energy supplies in the making of fake snow as well as its impact on the environment

As the climate warms, snow accumulations have been declining in many regions of the world. This trend means less snow and more troubles for the ski industry. To tackle this problem, the industry is now relying heavily on artificial snow.

At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, 80 percent of skiing events took place on artificial snow. Although artificial snow was able to cover patchy slopes and to create optimal ski conditions, the excitement did not come without cost.

Fake snow used in ski and snowboard events is precisely shaped and prepared over the months leading up to the games. It requires a vast amount of water to make artificial snow. According to reports, the Olympics organizing committee spent $6 million to deploy snow cannons. The snow cannons compress cooled water to produce fake snow, making it a costly solution to decreasing snow levels. This could also lead to the shortage of drinking water for the local communities.

Moreover, snow cannons and the infrastructure necessary to operate them runs on electricity, which means increased energy consumption. If this electricity is not produced with clean fuel, it releases more greenhouse gas and may further exacerbate climate change.

The use of snow cannons is now a common practice in Winter Olympics as well as ski resorts.

“Ecologically speaking, ski resorts have always had a troubled reputation. Clearing land for trails, for example, disturbs natural habitat. When it comes to making snow, the extra equipment required to keep up with climate change will necessarily increase disturbance to terrestrial habitats near ski runs. Other than that, the ecological impacts are tough to quantify.” Digital library Daily JSTOR wrote.

This year’s Winter Olympics were held in a South Korean county. Although the place was cold, it certainly did not have enough snow for the winter sports. The country turned to artificial snow to guarantee the winter season. Artificial snow was also used in 1988, 1998, 2002, 2010, and 2014 Winter Olympics. Because of increasing temperatures in winter, the 2022 Olympics host, Beijing will depend completely on artificial snow.

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The Author

Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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