PROSNOW statement on the IPCC’s Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate

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PROSNOW is funded from 2017 to 2020 by the European Commission, through its programme H2020-EU.3.5.1. – “Fighting and adapting to climate change”, and specifically the topic SC5-01-2016-2017 – “Exploiting the added value of climate services”. The project coordinator is Samuel Morin (Météo-France), who served as lead author for the IPCC SROCC (Chapter 2 “High Mountain Areas” and Summary for Policy Makers) .

The IPCC Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) was released in September 2019. Mountain ski tourism is addressed explicitly in the SROCC, including in the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM). The SROCC SPM states that “in some places, artificial snowmaking has reduced negative impacts on ski tourism (medium confidence )”.

It further states that “current snowmaking technologies are projected to be less effective in reducing risks to ski tourism in a warmer climate in most parts of Europe, North America, and Japan, in particular at 2°C global warming and beyond (high confidence) ”. Within the portfolio of solutions to tackle climate change impacts, “improved context-specific forecasts, including early warning systems” are clearly identified as potent solutions contributing to limiting the magnitude of climate change negative impacts.

The emerging PROSNOW climate service aims at developing better anticipation capabilities at time scales from days to weeks, for optimizing snow management strategies, in particular snowmaking. By improving the efficiency of the snow management process, it supports adaptation capacities in several ways, including improving the reliability of snow conditions under increasingly challenging meteorological and snow conditions. Resource saving can be a critical issue for local water supply, both for the ski areas needs and for any other use and PROSNOW can contribute to reduce production costs and thus improve the economic health of ski resorts. Co-designed by scientists and snow professionals, a successful implementation of PROSNOW in ski areas can also be seen as a dedicated monitoring system for local climate change and its impacts. The daily use of such information in an operational context would establish a very successful link between snow management practitioners and climate and snow scientists.

PROSNOW can contribute to providing solutions for the adaptation of the ski tourism sector to ongoing and future climate change. Adaptation in this specific context has its limits, however. The diversification of tourism offer beyond snow-based activities is noted in the SROCC SPM as a potentially effective adaptation method (“diversification of tourism activities throughout the year supports adaptation in high mountain economies (medium confidence) ”). Furthermore, we note that the SROCC SPM stresses that “enabling climate resilience and sustainable development depends critically on urgent and ambitious emissions reductions coupled with coordinated sustained and increasingly ambitious adaptation actions ( very high confidence )”.

Adapting the management of ski resorts needs to be seen in the broader context of the alignment of the tourism sector with ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

Find the statement in a pdf version here.

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