Global Warming and Skiing

Global warming! In 10 years, replace "May 1" with "April 1." In 20, "March 1."

Or maybe it's just a fluke. Doubt it, but I'll hold out hope.

Well, at least I know the K will be open this weekend, when I'm going.

Thanks for the news.
 

frontrange

New member
This might not be global warming but watch out because its coming. And you know what it means- forget the 24 hour snowmaking early in the season, forget that 4wd Yukon (you'll squeeze into a Montana van getting 27 mpg instead).

I'd say that when the ice at both poles and on most glaciers is rapidly melting that something is changing. And you know what? Even if they're wrong, you're better off making a mistake and believing it than not believing it and having to deal with complete climate change- if you're wrong.

So get ready to stop pumping electricity up a hill in the form of compressed air and pressurized water- get ready to really appreciate good grooming to hold the snow, or more MRG type experiences- which isn't really a bad thing from what I hear. Don't begrudge a ski area for holding back on snowmaking until it make sense- until its going to stay cold enough long enough that what they make doesn't melt and run off the hill. You can always earn your turns on Tucks anyway!
 

BigJay

New member
Well no american should complain about global warming... after all you country refused to join Kyoto!

But also you have to realise that skiing is not as "hot" as it use to be... Now people are anxious to get on there bikes or get on their rollerblades and embrace the summer activities...

I would have never tought that my first trip out west in Colorado would be a mountain bike trip! All my life i've been dreaming about snowy mountains... but now, as soon as the snow disappear, i get on my bike... Don't get me wrong, i'll be hiking the mountain on the first sign of a dump... but once powder goes away, i jump on the saddle again!

Things change and being open late is not important for ski resorts anymore!
 

Patrick

Active member
BigJay":1s5zwkvd said:
Well no american should complain about global warming... after all you country refused to join Kyoto!

Although I'm not an American, Canadians shouldn't be too proud either.
:oops:

Welcome back Big Jay.
 

frontrange

New member
Tony Crocker":2mofzp8u said:
With regard to the overall global warming debate I would welcome references and hopefully answers to the following 2 questions:
1) Why did temperatures decrease from 1940 to 1970, given that CO2 in the atmosphere has been steadily increasing since 1850?
2) Given that the above was due presumably to natural and not manmade factors, how do we (or can we) allocate the 1970-2005 warming between natural and manmade factors?

Tony- here's a theory that just popped up watching Nova. According to Nova sunlight has actually diminished over some time period that I didn't catch. This dimming naturally reduces peak temperatures and increases temperatures at night. The dimming is thought to be due to increased particulate matter in the atmosphere which leads to increased levels of clouds.

Now, if temperatures decreased from 1940 to 1970, perhaps that coincides with a very high level of pollutants from coal plants, pre- emissions cars, etc. Around 1970, nuclear plants and hydro were very popular; and emissions controls really kicked in- particulate matter started to be reduced. That's also when coal plants started to have increased pollution controls and many factories were forced to reduce pollution. So maybe up until then the cloud cover from particulate matter was balancing the greenhouse effect from CO2. Just a theory.

No matter what, I'm convinced that lower emissions, lower use, less particulate pollution, are the way to go. We need to get green- and the US has to bone up to it as we are per-capita the biggest user of energy (except probably some smaller Arab states).
 

JimG.

New member
Tony Crocker":377e9mgj said:
Given that the above was due presumably to natural and not manmade factors, how do we (or can we) allocate the 1970-2005 warming between natural and manmade factors?

This is the key question. I am not in the camp that suggests that human activity is the cause of global warming. I do not deny that we have contributed to it to some degree with pollution, but I think global warming/cooling is cyclical and quite normal.

I'm not sure that Tony's question can be answered with precision. It would be hard to run any type of controlled experiment in a lab as big as Earth itself. But I do feel that humans overestimate the importance of our contributions to this cyclical pattern that Earth goes through.

I think what's most difficult for us to comprehend is the time frame of these changes. They happen slowly and over the course of decades and centuries. None of us stays alive long enough to see the warming cycle go to completion and then swing back to the cooling cycle again.

In my opinion, we compensate for that by trying to prove we are the source of the change and that we can somehow control it. We can't.
 

Jonny D

New member
I'm not sure that Tony's question can be answered with precision. It would be hard to run any type of controlled experiment in a lab as big as Earth itself...

We just need to go to the moon, create an alternate earth enviroment, and experiment on that :lol:

Seriously though, while we can't have a truely "Global" experiment, we could do a simple one (somewhat) locally:

on a day when the "slime Line" above your local city is especially prevalent (usually in the summer), get the temperature outside. Then hop in your car (or vehicle of choice...) and go to a location that is reasonably similar, but where there is less smog. Take the temperature. Compare.

I've done this in Toronto, and driving 50k (basically due west), you can find temps about 5C less.

And by "reasonably similar" i mean: same elevation, smilar geography , proximity to bodies of water, etc.

Even if the answer was that air polution only increased air temps by 1C, think abou that in terms of snow:
How much snow can you melt at night at -0.5C vs +0.5C?
uh... carry the one.... devide by... subtract. :idea:
Oh yeah. Snow doesn't melt below freezing.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
As one might surmise, my current opinion is similar to JimG's.

frontrange's post should remind us all that some environmentalists in the 1970's were warning us that manmade pollution was going to create another ice age. I'm not suggesting that since they were wrong then they can't be right now. I'd just like to see some credible answers to the 2 questions I posted earlier.

While 1970 does mark the point at which First World countires began to combat pollution more aggressively, we should recall that Eastern Europe continued to pour brown coal emissions into the air until the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989. And China has been steadily increasing its use of less than clean coal as its primary power source.

What Jonny D describes is called the "urban hot spot phenomenon," something I have certainly observed personally in L.A. since growing up here in the 50's and 60's. L.A. has warmer evenings, less fog and more summer humidity than back then despite a significant decrease in the most uncomfortable components of smog. AFAIK that is a separate subject from global warming.

While on my Egypt trip I read Jared Diamond's Collapse, which has as its main thesis that human societies need to heed early warning signs of environmental stress. Yet in his extensive analysis of Viking settlements in Greenland he mentions in passing that "temperatures when it was settled around 1000AD were about the same as they are now." And this is the Arctic, where the most dramatic temperature increases over the past 35 years have been observed.
 

frontrange

New member
Not to sound like a broken record, sometimes its best to err on the side of caution. Without being able to model the entire earth or even do a reasonable experiment, we can basically just measure temperatures, glacial retreat, arctic ice coverage, atmospheric gas percentages such as ozone and carbon dioxide, and particulate matter. Oh, ocean water temperatures as well.

In a nutshell, the measurements over the past decades show significant changes. We know that humans are the dominant animal on the planet and that humans do the most to actively and passivly change the environment- we can even take credit for increased methane from decaying cow manure, among other things.

A very interesting observation was made after 9-11. Planes basically stopped flying for several days. It has been shown that aircraft contrails can form into clouds which of course block sunlight and hold heat in. So, the third day into the shutdown a temperatures were evaluated over a large number of locations, and then compared to a large database stretching back many years. The finding was that it was hotter in the day and cooler at night. This does not explain global warming by any stretch of the imagination; it is, however, an interesting observation that shows how even some little things can have big effects.

I don't have the data or answers for Tony, but I've read enough that I'm worried and am willing to do something about it- lucky I"m a bicyclist and I just got a motorcycle to supplement my 38 mpg car! I've switched most of my bulbs to compact flourescents and I walk around turning off lights when they're left on. Small things, but they probably help a little, and in most cases cost less money.

So join the club- err on the side of caution next time- by a compact instead of an SUV, or get a bit of exercise by walking to the store.

Enough of my soap box!
 

Patrick

Active member
Tony Crocker":3s5xwp2a said:
Eastern early season and to some extent late season skiing is more dependent upon temperature than snowfall.

In upper New England/Quebec average December-February temperatures are very cold and a substantial increase would be needed to really limit snowmaking. I do think October and May skiing in the East will become more rare.

We have been getting temps for the last few years temps that are generally above average.

October is already done, this year was a fluke. May is on life-support for the next few years.

Tony Crocker":3s5xwp2a said:
With regard to natural snow, warmer temps mean more water vapor and probably more precipitation overall.(...) With very low average midwinter temperatures I don't see December-February snowfall decreasing in New England/Quebec.

I would agree on the short term basis, however we are also getting more rain and thaw periods with that greater precipitation. The first time I heard that this would probably happen was 20 years ago in my Climatology course in university.

Tony Crocker":3s5xwp2a said:
would be in some jeopardy from a rising rain/snow line.

This year in the East would have been a perfect example if you add the latitude factor instead of altitude. There was a clear cut-off in snow wether which side of the St. Lawrence River you were. Snowpack was almost non-existant south of the river (I include Vermont).


Tony Crocker":3s5xwp2a said:
With regard to the overall global warming debate I would welcome references and hopefully answers to the following 2 questions:
1) Why did temperatures decrease from 1940 to 1970, given that CO2 in the atmosphere has been steadily increasing since 1850?
2) Given that the above was due presumably to natural and not manmade factors, how do we (or can we) allocate the 1970-2005 warming between natural and manmade factors?

I mentioned that I had a course in Climatology, however I received my degrees in Human Geography. I'm sure not a specialist on the climate and some expert would probably able to answer this better than I can.

I agree, variation in temperature have always happen and the human wasn't necessarily a factor.

When you talk about the period starting with the industrial revolution in 1850, the amount of country and the scale of it was miniscule compared to today. So it's impact wouldn't have been that important. Scientists say that even if we would stop all world emission now, the temperature would continue to raise for the x amount of years. However the impact would be felt further down the road. The problem we have now is like a runaway train, even if we stop the engine the train will continue rolling for a while before it actually slows down.

The problem now is that the World as a whole is polluting more, not just a few of the original industrialized country. Look at the raise in economy of certain Asia countries like China, India, Korea, Vietnam in the past 20 years. These country are also burning more fossil fuels than ever before.

The temps are raising and humans are contributing to it. To what extent, we'll never know. However the Earth temps has never risen so fast in such a short period of time. Instead of waiting until we know the exact percentage, government and people should act.

Tony Crocker":3s5xwp2a said:
frontrange's post should remind us all that some environmentalists in the 1970's were warning us that manmade pollution was going to create another ice age. I'm not suggesting that since they were wrong then they can't be right now. I'd just like to see some credible answers to the 2 questions I posted earlier.

You are talking about some scientists back in the 70s. If I recall what was said at the time was either the pollution would block out the heat from the sun (i.e. creating a mini-ice age) OR kept the heat within the atmosphere and thus having a greenhouse effect. Those theories were still around in the early 80s.

Scientists around the World are mainly unanimous on the subject. I'm sorry Tony, but I have found that it's mainly in the US that contracting views from scientists can be found. You might argue that it's possibly because of greater scientific freedom, I say it's because the US administration and some powerful industries have an interest in seeing aggressive action fails.

Change that is happening now is more noticeable the further North you go. Temperature variation in most of the continental US haven't been that noticeable, however go in Canada's North are there are signs everyday that the Earth is warming up. Changes in Ottawa might not be so dramatic as in the Territories or Northern Quebec, but they are definitely noticeable.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
As one who works in insurance I can certainly agree with frontrange that action can be appropriate in order to reduce the probability of a very unpleasant contingency, even if that probability is small and/or uncertain.

I am aware that the percentage of scientists who believe global warming is man-induced is increasing. I would be interested in reading some more of the specifics. Unfortunately some of the arguments made (never as warm as now, increasing faster than ever before) are just not correct, and in some cases you only have to go back 1000-2000 years to refute them, as in the Greenland example.

And the lion's share of recent glacial retreat occurred between 1890 and 1940, rather than since 1970 when as Patrick notes, the volume of manmade emissions has been much greater.

One of the more persuasive arguments for action is in fact that past history has examples of very abrupt climate change. Therefore addition of manmade effects to natural fluctuation might increase instability and the chance of one of these abrupt changes, to which it would be more difficult to adapt than the current more gradual situation.

Snow preservation in the East has always been more a function of latitude than altitude, since there isn't that much altitude. So the marginal areas are probably in the mid-Atlantic and more southern parts of the Midwest.

The small pocket of high snowfall in Vermont north of I-89 did OK by mid-season as the snow finally piled up fast enough that it couldn't be completely wiped out by rain and thaw. Sort of a mild version of Mt. Baker's edge in the Northwest. Baker gets rain like everyone else in Washington State, but rarely enough to offset its prodigious snowfall.
 

JimG.

New member
Tony Crocker":2aop1x4h said:
One of the more persuasive arguments for action is in fact that past history has examples of very abrupt climate change. Therefore addition of manmade effects to natural fluctuation might increase instability and the chance of one of these abrupt changes, to which it would be more difficult to adapt than the current more gradual situation.

Also very true. And I'm not saying the folks who feel global warming is affected by man are wrong, they aren't.

I got rid of my SUV and bought a compact wagon...I've got a family of 5 and a small car just won't cut it. I don't waste electricity or heating fuel either. I live on a trout stream and won't use fertilizers, especially organic ones. I know manmade pollution is bad and I certainly do what I can to conserve...everyone should.

To those who point at the US, we are fossil fuel pigs. But we have also been more aggressive than most countries in trying to reverse the effects of pollution spewed for decades, and we are cleaner than we were 30 years ago. And even if the US were the cleanest, what of China, Russia, India, and other developing nations? Are you free enough of pollution sin to point the finger at them and tell them to stop?

Whatever the answers to the above, to me, whether or not an organized effort will alter or even slow global warming is highly debatable.
 

Patrick

Active member
JimG.":2m9zamve said:
To those who point at the US, we are fossil fuel pigs. But we have also been more aggressive than most countries in trying to reverse the effects of pollution spewed for decades, and we are cleaner than we were 30 years ago. And even if the US were the cleanest, what of China, Russia, India, and other developing nations? Are you free enough of pollution sin to point the finger at them and tell them to stop?

Don't worry I also point the finger to my governments and my fellow Canadians.

As why the US is getting pointed so much is that the US government decided to pull out of the Kyoto accord (it had been signed) when it produces over 25% of the planet Green House gases. Yes, there have been some little progress (not enough), but having the World's only superpower and World economic leader turn up it's nose all of a sudden to the process is rather insulting to some.

Without the US, what is the incentive for other countries to do something about it? Why would the upcoming powers bother going anything about it when the US doesn't feel oblige by them? Yes, there didn't have any specific goals to meet in the first role for these countries (China, India, etc), but in the next round of talks (2010?), these countries wouldn't be exempt from emission targets.

Why is that China and India doesn't have targets now? The reasons was that their economies was just emerging. That what emerged from Kyoto negotiations. The US and Canada also got some exemptions. The "Western" has had been rich countries since the beginning of the industrial revolution, while later are just becoming. The West has been polluting just over 100 years without any serious measure to take, they emerging countries are asking a bit of the same thing. However the measure are targets would applies in the next phase.

JimG.":2m9zamve said:
Whatever the answers to the above, to me, whether or not an organized effort will alter or even slow global warming is highly debatable.

What is the best way to deal with this global problem? If everyone is off on it's own program (or not) would this help? The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization exist, why can the same exist for the environment? To solve a global problem, you need a global effort!

If we don't do anything about this, the problem will not dissapear. If there is a concerted effort, then there is a chance to do anything about it. Let's do something about it instead of sitting there and wondering what if for the next 50 years.

There are a ton of report about the effect of global warming (man-made or not) and some of them deal about skiing.

From the FTO's Ski News section today.

Report depicts grim future for ski industry

Climate change could eliminate snow sports from Colorado, according to the State of the Rockies 'report card'

http://www.vaildaily.com/article/200604 ... /104190045

Climate change: How bad could it be?

http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20060419/NEWS/60419003
 

JimG.

New member
Patrick, I understand how you feel. And I won't deny that America's decision to spurn Kyoto sends a bad message. What's worse, that decision was made because of politics and business, not environmentalism. After all, if we committed to cutting back on fossil fuel emissions our wonderful oil conglomerates couldn't brag about the record profits they make on sales of $3+ per gallon gas.

And I'm not waiting for any violins to play for American gas prices...it's been long overdue that we pay the going rate like the rest of the world has for decades.

But to me, this is all part of the silly human theatre we are part of, because I am not convinced that humans are the primary cause of global warming. We may be speeding it up some, and we may tip the environmental scales catastrophically sometime sooner rather than later, but to me these changes are inevitable anyway. These are cycles of warming and cooling that are part of the Earth's "physiology". It's normal.

Here's a thought...has anyone considered that there may be even worse negative impacts if we were to stop global warming? Are humans so haughty that we think we know everything and that our vision is better than what Earth has established as the norm? Remember, Earth has gone through these warming and cooling periods for eons.

Remember the law of unintended consequences.
 

lookn4powder

New member
Patrick":myo8z348 said:
Climate change: How bad could it be?

Trypanosomiasis, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, increased incidence of malaria and West Nile fever, schistosomiasis, chagas disease, leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis are just a few new things people in the southern states (and those along the lower Mississippi) may need to worry about from global warming. Increases of subtropical/tropical disease have displaced some bird species in the islands. A few years ago our president publicly dismissed climate change with the shrug that it would happen and that there was opportunity for the "winners and losers". But this year, this same administration has quietly asked our agency to initiate new research relevant to global climate change.

The discussion of human-induced global climate change (which is not a simple issue of warming/cooling) began with an initial estimate by Arrhenius around 1896 after it was discovered that gases, like CO2, absorbed infrared light. He estimated a 4-7F temperature increase by 2000 from human released combustion gases. His estimate is approximately correct, but his model was really crude.

Over the next 60-70 years, two or three other more refined estimates (one included volcanism) were published--and mostly ignored. But that has changed. A key problem with all models is that you need a lot of data and a pretty refined computational model to predict the global effects to any certain degree. Now computational climatologists have much of this including ocean surface temperature for 100+ years. Each set of calculations has given about the same answer but with smaller uncertainty: human activity does account for the baseline global temperature increase--and natural events (e.g., increased volcanism) can temporarily overwhelm and obscure the baseline increase.

Few scientists who work in climate change disagree with global warming. Most dissenters that I read about have obvious political motives or have drawn their conclusions from cherry-picked data. This current consensus is not a result of groupthink but it is the outcome of lots of scientific discussion, arguments, nasty challenges, and plain hard work. If there were an honest way to dispute the results, some climate change scientist would have figured out a model improvement that disproves the consensus. I am certain that every climatologist has wracked his brain to disprove the global warming conclusion because to a scientist, there is no larger sense of self-satisfaction than proving other scientists dead wrong. Since each model predicts about the same conclusion, but with increasingly lower uncertainty, I believe that it is time to think more about solutions to global warming than it is to dismiss the predictions out-of-hand.

Since this discussion is the longest one on the boards, I guess the ski season must be essentially over.

Sigh!


Jeff
 

Patrick

Active member
JimG.":3fghegea said:
But to me, this is all part of the silly human theatre we are part of, because I am not convinced that humans are the primary cause of global warming. We may be speeding it up some, and we may tip the environmental scales catastrophically sometime sooner rather than later, but to me these changes are inevitable anyway. These are cycles of warming and cooling that are part of the Earth's "physiology". It's normal.

Here's a thought...has anyone considered that there may be even worse negative impacts if we were to stop global warming? Are humans so haughty that we think we know everything and that our vision is better than what Earth has established as the norm? Remember, Earth has gone through these warming and cooling periods for eons.

Remember the law of unintended consequences.

You're point is well taken.

You're damn if you do and damn if you don't.

For argument sake, what if it shows the humans are doing to be extinct as the dinosaur were? Should we try do something about it even if that cycle would part of the normal life cycle of the planet.

Should we just sit here and hope for the best?

It might be normal, but by adding ton of gases into the atmosphere is probably not a good thing either. Should we leave the planet the way we found it? That's what you do when you hike up Mount Washington (carry-in, carry-out) you try to have a minimal impact on the environment. What can be wrong with that?
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
Colorado would be about the last currently developed ski region of the world to be affected by global warming due to its very high base altitudes. There is absolutely no trend of decreased snowfall at any Colorado area over the past 35 years of warming. If temperatures warmed enough to affect Colorado skiing, we would have plenty of more serious issues to worry about first, like a good chunk of Florida being underwater for example.

Articles like this do not contribute to the credibility of the global warming discussion IMHO. If we're going to criticize Bush admin or oil industry for political motives or cherry-picked data, we also need to cut down on some of the overhyped drivel coming from the other direction.

The Jared Diamond book Collapse mentioned no less than 12 environmental issues he considered serious and worth combatting. But in his historical examples I could not help but notice the recurring cases of deforestation. An aggressive program to reverse this trend would also have the effect of absorbing more CO2 out of the atmosphere, with other benefits and perhaps at lower cost than some of the measures to reduce CO2 emissions.
 

Patrick

Active member
Tony Crocker":1skc8h7s said:
Articles like this do not contribute to the credibility of the global warming discussion IMHO.
(...)
The Jared Diamond book Collapse mentioned no less than 12 environmental issues he considered serious and worth combatting. But in his historical examples I could not help but notice the recurring cases of deforestation. An aggressive program to reverse this trend would also have the effect of absorbing more CO2 out of the atmosphere, with other benefits and perhaps at lower cost than some of the measures to reduce CO2 emissions.

I am not a specialist about Colorado, I had just notices that they were article published inthe Ski News regarding Golbal warming.

No argument on my part that there are also other serious issues that seriously need to be address like deforestation and water issues.
 

lookn4powder

New member
Tony Crocker":3pullns6 said:
Articles like this do not contribute to the credibility of the global warming discussion IMHO. If we're going to criticize Bush admin or oil industry for political motives or cherry-picked data, we also need to cut down on some of the overhyped drivel coming from the other direction.

My comment had nothing to say about the current Admin except to point out that it started by regarding GW as a non-problem because it probably figured that that new opportunities arise from change and change is usually neutral to positive. Now, it has looked at the evidence again and while they may not want to "Chicken Little" the issue, they do want to know better the nature of the problem and determine if the USA is a net winner or loser. I find it sensible that if the administration didn't believe that warming could have likely adverse effects on the US, it wouldn't have revised its internal directives.

I said nothing about the oil industry. The country runs hydrocarbons and its transportation system will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. I don't see much use of villanizing the oil suppliers. Last I checked, everyone seems to drive autos and has no plans to stop.

But I also don't think that one should dismiss the exacting work of 1000's of man-years that find that human activities do affect the environment and global heat balance. The scientists in the field nearly unanimously conclude that human activities have substantial impact. If so, this impact will continue to increase regardless of our opinions.

The real current question remains: Can mankind reduce adverse GW effects and if so how? To me, it is not so clear that we can.

But that discussion is probably better left for another interest group.

Jeff
 

lookn4powder

New member
Tony Crocker":406j5gk7 said:
The Jared Diamond book Collapse mentioned no less than 12 environmental issues he considered serious and worth combatting. But in his historical examples I could not help but notice the recurring cases of deforestation.

I have not read this book but deforestation in itself strongly affects heat balance calculations by increasing the reflected heat and evaporative loading. Some global models find very strong adverse effects from the deforestation of the Amazon basin even while ignoring CO2 sequestration effects.

Global climate change (a better and less polarizing term) is more subtile and complex than simple emissions (CO2, CH4, and aerosols) accounting.

Jeff
 
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