The Alps Could Lose 70 Percent of Their Snow Cover by 2100
The Alps could lose up to 70 percent of their snow cover in the next century, according to new research conducted by Swiss scientists.
As the popular skiing range has seen record low snowfalls over the past years, the trend is set to continue and worsen, according to a study published in the European Geosciences Union (EGU) journal The Cryosphere.
In a best case scenario, if the Paris climate agreements are followed, limiting the warming of the earth by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the Alps will lose at least 30 percent of their snow cover by 2100. If greenhouse gas emissions are not properly contained, that number could jump to 70 percent.
“The Alpine snow cover will recede anyway, but our future emissions control by how much,” said lead author Christoph Marty, a research scientist at the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, in a press release.
The researchers used meteorological data in an open 3-D computer modeling system to make their predictions. The past years have already begun to show these predictions in action. With temperatures rising and dry meteorological patterns over the mountains, there is a reduced chance of precipitation in general and an increased chance of rain over snow.
The winter of 2016 was the driest season for the Alps since record keeping began more than 150 years ago. The past three years have all reported dry seasons, according to The Guardian.
The loss of snow would be particularly devastating to small Alpine towns in France, Italy, and Switzerland, many of which rely on tourism for jobs and economic productivity.
“The most affected elevation zone for climate change is located below 1200 meters, where the simulations show almost no continuous snow cover towards the end of the century,” reads an excerpt from the study. Most of the ski resorts are located at this altitude.