Analysis of Predicted Climate Change Impacts on U.S. Winter Tourism Sector


             Global climate change provides many implications for the future of our planet. However, with an expected nation wide increase of 4°-10°F, a decline of 25-100% of the western snowpack and a decrease of up to 50% of Northeastern snow seasons by the end of the century, a looming problem exists for winter tourism. Because winter tourism is largely resource dependent, the loss of snow has been shown to result in the decline of visiting tourists and recreationalist, which is followed by an economic decline. With upwards of $12.2 billion added to the U.S. economy annually and roughly 211,900 employees, winter tourism contributes to the economic security of our nation. Yet without a greater understanding of how our economies may react to climate change under varying emission scenarios we must first understand how climate related changes will impact the winter tourism sector of the U.S. Thusly, this study examines the global and regional impacts of climate change on both ski industries and local ecosystems. Anthropogenic forces have been found to be the greatest contributor to climate change in the past century and thusly realistic adaptive strategies for winter tourism firms are also discussed. The projected loss of snow will result in the loss of our winter tourism sector. We must therefore work preserve our winters through the mediation of climate change.

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Environmental Impacts on the Ski Industry

Standing a top my childhood sledding hill, I help my seven year old cousin carefully position himself in to his fluorescent green snow sled before giving him a big push into the rolling terrain below. I watch with gratification as he hoots with excitement on the way down until eventually skidding to a stop with his tiny arms raised high in accomplishment. This particular hill near my home in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, provided my sisters and I some of our most fond childhood memories of winters in New England. It was in this exact spot that I learned to build jumps that wouldn’t fail under human weight and do my first 360 on a snowboard. However there will be no jump building today. Gazing down the hill I stare in some disbelief as my little cousin retrieves his sled and starts hopping his way back up the hill, navigating around patches of bare ground. It’s January in Vermont and I wonder, where has our snow gone?

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