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Climate change could cut Australia's skiing season by 80 days: scientists

CANBERRA, Jan. 9, 2017 (BSS/Xinhua) - The effects of climate change could have a severe impact on Australia's skiing industry, the nation's peak scientific body has said on Monday, with modeling predicting the ski season could shrink by up to 80 days by 2050.

According to modeling by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), in a "low-risk" scenario the effects of climate change could cut a month off the nation's 112-day ski season, but under "severe" predictions that number could be as high as 80 days, effectively killing off Australia's ski and snow tourism sectors.

The CSIRO's Climate Science Centre research director Kevin Hennessy told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Monday that while ski-friendly days in the depths of winter are likely to be unharmed for some time, the ski seasons will start later and end earlier.

"In future we expect a reduction in the number of snow days, the depth of that snow across that season and the duration of the ski season, so we expect a later start to the ski season and an earlier finish," Hennessy said.

"In the Kosciuszko region, which has fairly high elevation, we expect there to be good years and bad years right through this century. (Maybe by) the end of this century might we see really, really low snow levels."

Artificial snow is already made at peaks around Australia to ensure safe skiing, but according to Hennessy, that's only possible when the "wet bulb temperature" plummets to below negative one or negative two degrees Celcius.

Under current forecasts, the number of days conducive to making artificial snow could halve in the next 15 years, even at Australia's highest peaks.

"We anticipate by 2030, the opportunities for snow making might be halved with the exception of some of the high resorts where opportunities might be halved by 2040s," Hennessy said.

Australia's ski season currently spans from June until October during the southern hempisphere's winter.