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For ski industry, warming winters mean waning profits

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Things are going downhill fast for the United States’s $12.2 billion snow sports industry.

Faced with warmer winters, less snow and all around shorter ski seasons, snow sports resorts are facing serious dips in profit.

Last week, the Natural Resources Defense Council and climate-themed winter sports group Protect Our Winters released a report outlining the potential effect of climate change on the country’s skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling industries.

According to the report, which drew on research from the University of New Hampshire, the downhill ski industry takes in about $1 billion less revenue during a poor snow season than it does during a good one. This lack of revenue translates to a loss of anywhere between 13,000 to 27,000 jobs.

If current weather trends continue, average temperatures are estimated to rise between 4 and 10 degrees by the end of the century, which could cut the length of the snow season in the Northeast in half. In the west, this could mean a decline of snow depths by 25 to 100 percent.

Many ski resorts across the U.S. have resorted to manufacturing their own snow, but this endeavor can be costly and can result in issues of water scarcity.

“The industry hasn’t done a good job on educating leaders on the raw science and hasn’t made enough of a public statement on climate,” Auden Schendler, vice president of sustainability at the Aspen Skiing Company resort area in Colorado told the New York Times. “It needs to ramp that up radically in the same way that the insurance industry has recognized climate change as an existential threat.”

Image: Zach Dischner/Flickr

[via New York Times]

— By on December 9, 2012, 6:17 AM PST

Sarah Korones

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sarah Korones is a freelance writer based in New York. She has written for Psychology Today and Boston's Weekly Dig. She holds a degree from Tufts University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure