Plataforma sobre Adaptación al Cambio Climático en España

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The vulnerability of Pyrenean ski resorts to climate-induced changes in the snowpack

Winter tourism is the main source of income and the driving force of local development in many mountain areas. However, in recent years, the industry has been identified as being extremely vulnerable to future climate change. Although the Pyrenees has the largest ski area in Europe after the Alps, there are few detailed climate change vulnerability assessments on the ski resorts based in this region. This paper analyzes the vulnerability of the Pyrenean ski resorts to projected changes in the snowpack under various future climate scenarios. In addition, the study analyzes the sustainability of the snowmaking systems to offset the climate variability of natural snow cover. On average, the study predicts a shorter ski-season length, especially in low-altitude ski resorts in a moderate climate change scenario and for all ski resorts in a more intensive climate change scenario. However, a significant regional variability has been identified for the projected impacts at very short geographical distances within the studied area. Moreover, this paper shows that snowmaking cannot completely solve the problem for all ski resorts in the Pyrenees, as the measure can only act as a robust adaptation strategy in the region provided climate change is limited to +2 °C snowmaking.