Climate Science Panel — Future of Skiing — Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 14, 2017      

Alex Dierker

A quick hike on Loveland Pass, photo: Danielle Perrot

A quick hike on Loveland Pass, Colorado. In about a hundred years — or sooner — this could be a lot different due to global warming. Photo: Danielle Perrot

Saturday April 8th, 2017

This last Saturday Dani and I did some human-powered skiing here in Colorado, at Loveland Pass and Arapahoe Basin. After the fun, we headed to the base lodge for a panel discussion on climate change, hosted by Protect Our Winters and A-Basin.

The discussion featured three “local” science experts: Dr. Jim White (Professor of Geological Sciences at CU Boulder, Director of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research), Dr. Katja Friedrich (Associate Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at CU Boulder), and Dr. Keith Musselman (Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research). The panel offered a rare opportunity to interact directly with three leading scientists involved in climate change research and work in our backyard here in Colorado.

Dr. Keith Musselman discusses model results, photo: Danielle Perrot

Dr. Keith Musselman discusses model results. Photo: Danielle Perrot

The panel highlighted the scientists’ research that is being conducted on past, present and future climate change, the tools and technology, and a review of Climate Science 101. We have come a long way from taking photographs out of airplane windows to see what the snowpack looks like. Thanks to modern-day automated observation and satellite remote sensing, we have an incredible amount of information about our planet, which helps us to better understand its complexities.

As the panel explained, all of this data is used to run global climate and land surface models, which help scientists evaluate current and forecast future atmospheric conditions. These ever-evolving models run on supercomputers can now capture crazy small spatial scales, bringing into focus weather patterns around individual mountain peaks. Even with incredible computing speeds, these models can take years to set up and run a handful of climate change experiments. The result from this modeling is that now scientists can better understand how changes in greenhouse gases may alter ocean and air temperatures, precipitation, and mountain snowpack.

The fact of the matter is that our atmosphere is changing and changing at an alarming rate. It’s safe to say that those of us who read this blog regularly are highly in tune with the weather and even slight changes in the seasons. We enjoy the diverse mountain climate and the recreational activities that go along with it. Colorado alone has a multi-billion-dollar ski industry. Approximately 80% of our water supply comes from the snowpack, which helps us store that water until we really need it during the summertime. Let’s put it this way: we need the snow for our economy, health, and sanity.

The recent model results presented by the group included an outlook of precipitation, air temperature and mountain snowpack that would reflect a 4-degree Celsius increase in atmospheric global air temperature. This is a scenario predicted for the end of this century if population increases and we continue to produce emissions at today’s levels (i.e. “business as usual”). The maps of model-predicted snowpack reductions were sobering.

In short, Colorado could make out better than most thanks to our high elevation. At the peaks, future increases in winter and spring snowfall may partially offset more frequent shoulder-season rain, limiting snowpack losses. Much higher snow lines would mean 10-30% reductions in snowpack and much wetter snow. Like Colorado, the Canadian Rockies could potentially fare better than most because of its reliably cold air, but the Sierra, PNW and the Coastal Ranges of BC could lose a stunning 50-85% of their seasonal snowpack. The San Juan Mountains could see 20-30% reduction in snowfall and the Wasatch could see even bigger losses.

All in all, a very interesting panel discussion. It was great to see people from different sides of the community and country come together to discuss the issues at hand. The panel did a great job at explaining some science basics (like what is the difference between weather and climate, or how does our atmosphere work) and answering questions from the audience. Also, it was great to hear about future plans from A-Basin as they move to increase their use of solar and make their base area more environmentally friendly. We are starting to see more and more of these types of gatherings happen around the ski community and I highly recommend you stop in and check one out!

As for WildSnow, we’ve had quite a bit of interesting discussion about climate change, more always welcome.



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Comments

59 Responses to “Climate Science Panel — Future of Skiing — Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort”

  1. Jack April 14th, 2017 11:55 am

    Really nice summary and report. My experience is that wrapping my mind around the physical changes to temperature, snowpack, rainfall is one thing and I also feel driven to understand more about ecological and species extinction effects.

    Those seem to be harder to grasp and harder to predict the long term impacts. As usual, the photogenic species (polar bears, penguins….) lead in the popular press. Broad changes in species range and unpredictable ecological change are harder to portray.

    Congratulations! A really first rate report on an important topic.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 April 14th, 2017 3:38 pm

    Indeed, they’re talking about stuff happening a hundred years from now… that’s pretty major in terms of time scale. Doesn’t mean things are not happening right now that we can observe, but it makes me wonder about how quick we are to point at things and say, there, that’s global warming… though I can’t see how the retreating glaciers would not be caused by it.

    I’d also like to get a better handle on this climate modeling stuff, like see some models from 10 years ago that predicted this year’s weather, or models from 20 years ago that predicted something with better than a 50/50 chance of being right. I’d like to believe they can do that, but frankly, I don’t understand what a “climate model” even looks like. Is it a spreadsheet? A swirling matrix of colors on the screen with a bunch of guys in lab coats looking on? Should be interesting to dig into. I’d imagine a lot of it is pretty hard to understand as a lay person.

    Lou

  3. VT skier April 14th, 2017 4:04 pm

    Well speaking as a climate lay person, when I finished a ski run down the Vallee Blanc, in Chamonix, we had to climb a set of stairs to catch the Montenvers cog railway back into the valley.
    One could clearly see, the additional, newer sections that have to be added to this stairway, every year, as the Mer de Glace” retreats, lower and lower…now up to 400 steps from the glacier.
    As we skied down you could see old Via Ferrata (iron ladders) in the rock walls, that started well above the glacier, from the past when the glacier level was higher.

  4. Patrick April 14th, 2017 6:15 pm

    hello all,
    First, know the differences (and connections) between weather and climate change.

    from NASA website https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/5-8/features/nasa-knows/what-is-climate-change-58.html

    QUOTE What Is the Difference Between Weather and Climate?
    Weather is the short-term changes we see in temperature, clouds, precipitation, humidity and wind in a region or a city. Weather can vary greatly from one day to the next, or even within the same day. In the morning the weather may be cloudy and cool. But by afternoon it may be sunny and warm.

    The climate of a region or city is its weather averaged over many years. This is usually different for different seasons. For example, a region or city may tend to be warm and humid during summer. But it may tend to be cold and snowy during winter. END QUOTE

    Climate modelling – way deeper subject. Climate models are not well suited to predict the temp and wind at a particular place on a Tuesday afternoon in February 2027. See – Climate Models for Layman. http://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2017/02/Curry-2017.pdf

    Yes, retreating glaciers provide evidence of CC. (see http://www.climatehotmap.org/global-warming-locations/glacier-national-park-mt-usa.html ). Other evidence – altered and widespread forest insect dynamics and tree mortality (e.g., mtn pine beetle [MPB] in western N America).

    MAP of MPB pathways https://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/insects/~/media/Images/plants/insects/mpb/pathway.jpg

    Patrick

  5. Kristian April 14th, 2017 6:51 pm

    I am not a weather/climate model person, but have worked with them.

    Around the Earth, many millions of detailed measurements are made at various altitudes in the atmosphere and depths in the ocean every single day. Weather and climate are largely driven by the ocean circulation systems. (As a young cadet on the USCGC Sherman in the Arctic, I helped with Depth, Salinity, Temperature Casts.)

    These detailed observations have been going on for hundreds of years – much more and automated now. And include satellite observations. The observations include wind speed, direction, temperature, salinity, particle sizes, types of particles, types and ratios of gases, pressure, vegetation present, ground cover, wave heights, direction, etc. Nations and institutions around the world share the staggeringly large stored observation data.

    Weather and climate models are highly complex algorithms that are optimized to be run in many parallel processes on the very largest super computers. The models can take many hours to days to run.

    The models are relatively easy to verify because they are fed data from past years to see how well they model what is known to have subsequently occurred. And models are developed and tested independently at many laboratories and universities around the world. Literally hundreds of ships, hundreds of aircraft, hundreds of satellites, millions of buoys, millions of weather stations, and many thousands of scientists and military personnel are involved.

    And most importantly the independently developed models from around the world are all closely in agreement.

  6. AndyC April 14th, 2017 8:19 pm

    @Lou: Our local weather & climate Prof. Cliff Mass just posted his analysis of whether or not the extraordinary precipitation in CA & PNW this year was due to climate change http://cliffmass.blogspot.com (he says not) . I am not a climate scientist, but I have friends that are FWIW. Two things shape my view–a book by E.C. Pielou about climate since the last ice age published before the current research and that reveals the complexities of climate change and an article by Ruddiman (given to me by a climate scientist) that talks about how the development of rice culture (produces methane) and other grains caused global warming that was stopped by the bubonic plague outbreaks in Europe & Asia and that led to the Little Ice Age behind the old-growth forests in PNW. There are obvious climate changes that have affected glaciers around the world and that have led to desertification in North Africa, etc. But apparently those are not the global climate change that is being modeled emphasizing increasing CO2 emissions. The point of all my ramblings is that I believe there are multiple local-regional and global climate changes going on that are all related to human actions, only some of which are principally due to CO2; others are due perhaps to deforestation, reforestation, methane emissions, etc., even introduction of animals and perhaps mechanisms of climate change due to CO2 and methane that are yet unknown to the modelers–new data & analysis yield new models. Even tho I was once a scientist, I had no desire to try to comprehend the vastly complex data sets and models my friends were working on. I do know that climate activists and climate scientists are often not the same people and can make very different predictions–see Cliff’s blog.

  7. Eric Steig April 15th, 2017 8:02 am

    Lou,

    Regarding whether models from 10, 20 years ago made the right prediciton (of climate, not weather), see this compilation, which starts with the 1981 work of Hansen, and is updated each year.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/climate-model-projections-compared-to-observations/

    Something not shown is that the models not only have gotten the magnitude right, but also the spatial pattern (more warming in the Arctic) and the vertical structure (cooling in the stratosphere).

  8. Lou Dawson 2 April 15th, 2017 8:14 am

    Thanks Eric. Good to know they get it right. Now, what is actually going to be done about it, that actually makes a difference? Or should I even ask that (smile). We sure enjoy talking about all this stuff, and it seems to keep a lot of people busy and employed and blogging… Which brings us to my old saw, that of adaptation vs carbon mitigation, and the ethical-moral discussion that should perhaps engender. Lou

  9. Eric Steig April 15th, 2017 9:53 am

    Lou,

    I think the adaptation vs. mitigation questions is pretty simple, actuallly. We should do both. Here are some numbers, from a recent study. For where I live — Pacific Northwest — the difference between honoring the Paris accord, and just going about business as usual, is the difference between 1 in 10 “bad” (i.e rainy in the mountains) years and 4 in 10, for my kids. The Paris Accords are totally achievable, techonologically and policywise. That the US now is not going to honor the Paris accord is, well, SAD! This is particularly on my mind today because I had plans for a nice backcountry day with the kids, but it’s raining in the mountains, and instead of skiing I’m writing to you! (Not that this has anything much to do with climate change; it is April after all).

  10. Lou Dawson 2 April 15th, 2017 10:36 am

    Well, not to get too close to hardcore politics, but while the Paris seems like a good idea on the surface, it’s in my opinion flawed due to the questionable self reporting that it’s based on, as well as issues of which countries agree to do what. Just because something is achievable doesn’t make it happen. That’s the whole point here. Nothing is really happening other than ever more CO2. Good ideas are a dime a dozen. Talk is cheap. Action with results is what I’m personally interested in.

    Further, one has to wonder if economic forces, moderate regulatory changes and public desire will not result in significant changes in term of the shift to renewables, at an economically practical pace.

    And more still, the economics get really complex, it’s not simple, like pulling and replacing bills in your wallet.

    This article opens eyes:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/11/germany-takes-steps-to-roll-back-renewable-energy-revolution

    Lou

  11. Eric Steig April 15th, 2017 11:19 am

    Lou — I agree, completely. I’m definitely not naive about Paris accords. There’s no question economic forces are the way to go — but making that happen absolutely requires moderate regulation. The “free market” ain’t gonna do it on its own; at least, not quickly enough. And of course, the “free market” ain’t free when fossil fuel interests are so heavily subsidized by bad government policies. Hence, the pressure that activists put on governments is necessary.

    That Guardian article looks interesting. I’ll read it. But the sun is now peaking out so skiing comes first!

  12. Lou Dawson 2 April 15th, 2017 11:59 am

    Yeah, the “free” market is just a term of art, all markets are influenced or regulated by government action to one degree or another. As for the subsides, I’m not sure they’re all so “bad,” though some clearly are. We’ve done pretty well in this country for a long time despite the sometimes overtly pork barrel politics… that’s perhaps why so many people like to come here to live (smile). Or perhaps we’re still super bad, only we’re better than other places which are super super bad (smile)?

  13. ADC April 15th, 2017 3:29 pm

    It would be nice to see more skiers driving electric or phev vehicles.

  14. Chris B April 15th, 2017 3:49 pm

    Forty years ago the world was supposed to have had mass starvation in the developed world due to crashing food production. 20 years ago it was peak oil. Fat used to be bad for you and now diabetes has exploded. If you look at the IPCC model predictions of future temperature from 20,10,5 years ago their range is so far above what temperature has actually done they should be considered an epic failure. Predictions are hard, especially when they are about the future.

    The climate is always changing and future climate change may very well be terrible for skiing. It is pure hubris to think man can stop climate change or even to decide what is the correct level of co2. At height of the last ice age global co2 decreased to 180 ppm. Most plant life dies at 150 ppm. co2 is NOT pollution. It is plant food. The vast sums of money we are pissing away on climate change alarmism is folly. Sure, continue to study climate change but stop the massive corporate welfare of renewable energy. The national debt is approaching 20 trillion. There are so many concrete things that money could go to rather than the snark hunt of “stopping” climate change. For instance Aspen should invest in better snow making rather than their virtue signaling 100% renewable energy movement. And one last thing, making energy more expensive is the single most regressive thing you can do to our ailing economy.
    Peace y’all.

  15. Kristian April 15th, 2017 4:13 pm

    Have you ever had any actual exposure to oil and gas (oil patch) accounting? I have. Massive, massive subsidies disguised as deductions, depreciations, write-offs, etc. Same goes for coal.

  16. Matt Kinney April 15th, 2017 4:55 pm

    While I am skeptical of geo-engineering, there are people working on a more natural approach. I just found out about this project which seems more tame with less risk and consequence.

    http://www.pleistocenepark.ru/en/

    Meanwhile in Valdez, we are about 33% below normal for snowfall. That would be an anomaly if not for the fact that it has happened 3 of the past 4 winters. So now it becomes a pattern and what models predicted. Problem with models of 10, 20, 30 years ago is they missed the accelerated pace of global warming that we are documenting today. Results were based on averages. What we see now is that the trends are a little steeper in a shorter time period. What was predicted to happen in 100 years, could very well occur in 50 years.

  17. Ed April 15th, 2017 5:44 pm

    I know I’m going to get a slam for this but on an Easter weekend, can’t stand it anymore – sorry.
    I am a science dweeb – always will be. In grad school we were taught to always question older established science theory that our current thinking is based on and be prepared to radically alter/ discard what we currently hold inarguably true.

    Therefore, I would challenge statements like the one made above that there are hundreds of years of temperature measurements for example, as questionable “science”. Poppycock actually. There are old historical records yes, but they are not data like we have these days – even going back 50-100 years we do not have data with the accuracy possible now and no doubt instrumentation will develop continuously (unless some nut jobs start a world war maybe) – like our new GOES West satellite. I take great umbrage at blanket aggrandizing statements that are given with no context. Like I take umbrage at the “esteemed” Canadian climate scientist that recently screamed the headline worthy factoid that Canada’s Arctic was experiencing a huge high temperature blip this winter and this was correlated well with “models” and we’re all doomed, when the same weather models showed frigid temperatures (which were experienced) in the northern USSR – so the real headline was some place got warmer and some place got cooler (like -60-65 degC!)? Average = oh ‘bout the same? A blip in one place is not proof of a theory (filming during a Chinook cannot be used by DiCapprio the esteemed scientist, as evidence of climate Armageddon).

    Please people QUESTION all the BS floating around. Man is the most arrogant species on Earth if he thinks he fully understands complex, constantly changing natural systems – we still don’t know – really – the molecular basis for active transport of water by trees from roots to the canopy. Do we really think we can understand climate/ weather other than a gross approximation? These models are all mathematical human constructs generated on a machine, built and programmed by humans (who are still trying to get street lights to synchronize properly in some cities). They are approximations. Context people.

    But I have seen the glaciers in my favourite haunts around here receding drastically since I came west in the 1970’s – we shouldn’t remain inert either. At the same time, Lou you have travelled extensively in Europe – please talk more about the human transport they have there, for example. I cannot believe the dumb ***** children we have running things in N. America that continue to confound attempts at say high speed electric rail (yeah my pet topic)(no, no, no we don’t have the passenger load, they scream – while France’s TGV carries mail and fresh produce at night so food in Paris restaurants is really fresh and mail arrives before the letter writer has died and visited St. Peter), that ensure our LRT systems don’t reach our airports/ hospitals and are truly usable, that confound any and all attempts at local change – buying more insulated homes, solar panels (‘cause you are prevented from feeding power into the grid), no bike racks in malls and it goes on and on at all levels of stupid governments controlled by corporate graft (the developers all say – just like kids – “I Don’t Wanna”).

    And while I do marvel at US inventiveness like Tesla, I also remember when we had electric street cars in our cities, before some large US corporations who were prosecuted by the US government for collusion consequently, worked to pull all low the maintenance electric trolleys off the roads in favour of Gargantuan Motors diesel belching beasts which ensured them a vast network of municipalities requiring fossil fuels $ and frequent maintenance $$ and parts $$$.

    We, all of us, have to be part of the change. Maybe for ideas of what’s possible locally, please watch Islands of the Future, if you can get it on Netflix, as an example. The societies on these tiny little patches of Terra Firma have demonstrably changed the way they generate energy. However, I found the last episode about Iceland most disturbing – do those good folks allow corporations to dam every river in return for the jobs and taxes? They have an astoundingly beautiful country – I hope not. It’s about a balance. And I think Europe leads us by a vast stretch. Please offer insight for those that don’t/ can’t travel.

    Maybe as a start we ask everyone around the Easter dinner table what they could do this week to burn less fossil fuel or make some other change. It starts with talking about the mess and starting to do something. Paris Accords and the blowbags at the United Nations Blah-Fests jet setting around won’t really change much, certainly by next week anyway. Plant trees and care for the ones we have, just like they were our planet’s lungs? From high level felgercarb to local individuals doing something tomorrow! UN or the government dopes aren’t going to save us.
    Happy Easter all.

  18. Joe John April 15th, 2017 11:53 pm

    Right on Ed, I agree. Not much to add to the topic. Happy Easter Wildsnow!

  19. Eric B April 16th, 2017 3:25 am

    We’re already seeing significant impacts from climate change here in the alps. Scientists have confirmed these aren’t just short-term weather fluctuations but longer-term trends from human induced warming. Changes include shorter, more variable seasons (eg this season we had blizzards in Nov and hot spring like conditions in Feb), changing weather patters (eg more hot Fohn winds coming from North Africa, longer dry spells mid-season), and dramatically retreating glaciers. In addition to less reliable conditions, particularly at lower elevations, these changes create real hazards for backcountry skiers. Once reliably safe routes now have avalanche, crevasse, rock fall, and serac dangers that were minimal before. A Chamonix guide recently told me that all of the traditional “safe” routes up Mont Blanc have become significantly more dangerous over the past decade.

    For those interested, the OECD did a big study on how climate change will affect the European ski industry and winter tourism economy (http://www.oecd.org/environment/cc/climatechangeintheeuropeanalpsadaptingwintertourismandnaturalhazardsmanagement.htm) and I imagine impacts in the US and Canada will be equally dramatic. The effects are real, already happening and growing. If we are to save our winters we really need to act now. The ski industry and winter sports community needs to make their voices heard.

  20. Lou Dawson 2 April 16th, 2017 7:56 am

    Thanks for taking the time to write Ed, and happy Easter everyone!

  21. Kristian April 16th, 2017 8:04 am

    “I would challenge statements like the one made above that there are hundreds of years of temperature measurements for example, as questionable “science”. Poppycock actually. ”

    Ed/Lou,

    Monasteries, Governments, Universities, Ship Captains, etc. have been keeping detailed weather observations for hundreds of years.

    My sabbatical was at NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center.

    *******

  22. Lou Dawson 2 April 16th, 2017 8:24 am

    Easy there Kristian.

  23. Lou Dawson 2 April 16th, 2017 8:28 am

    And Ed (and all) please use paragraphs and watch the rude stuff, I added some grafs to Ed’s rant and had to redact a word. I don’t agree with everything he says, but it’s all thought provoking. Same with Kristian.

  24. Lou Dawson 2 April 16th, 2017 8:31 am

    Ed, re Iceland, check out Norway as well, they have an amazing energy system — more Teslas than anywhere else, and they fund their robust economy by selling petroleum to the rest of the world. Evil genius?

  25. Al April 16th, 2017 8:31 am

    Hi lou- were about the same age. We’re having a banner year in central Idaho snow-wise. I skied powder yesterday and will probably get a few shots of it today again. Does that mean climate change isn’t happening? Of course not. Also in our lifetime the popution of the u.s. and the world has more than doubled. I have a technical degree but I don’t think it takes a phd to realize no agreement, no accord, no technology is going to save us if we dont control our numbers, both here and on the planet in general. The u.s. by any measure, is well past the sustainable popution it can support long term. It may not be PC, but if we don’t start talking about the number one cause of the environmental degradation and climate change, human population, we are wasting our time, as our numbers will overwhelm any measures we take.

  26. Lou Dawson 2 April 16th, 2017 8:40 am

    Al, how do you propose we “control our numbers?”

  27. Al April 16th, 2017 9:21 am

    First thing is to decide if u think it’s an issue. I believe, the numbers, no matter your political leanings, are clear. U limited growth on a finite planet is, in my view, insanity. The condition of the planet is all the proof I need. The other thing is, nature solves problems on its own, regardless of our feelings of power or importance. Like any other out of control species, sooner or later we will be subject to the same forces that impact, numbers, resource etc. having said that, a far better plan is one that we come up w ourselves. To my view, human existence based on quality rather than quantity, as we do now, is preferable. As a start, end all tax incentives to have more than 2 kids. Replace yourself. “Go forth and multiply” has been more than accomplished. Educate women. Every study ever done shows, educated women control their reproduction, have far more options in life and have kids later than women held down by patriarchal, backward societies. This will involve confronting most religions and their fundamentalist beliefs, most of which were invented at a time in human history far different than what we confront now.The politically difficult issue of immigration which involves transferring vast numbers of people from the over populated 3rd world to the prosperous, relatively less populated west has to be confronted. For the u.s. we need to decide what kind of country we want to live in. As the third most populous country on earth, we need only look at China or India to see where our present policies are leading us. Note that none of this involves a massive die off, which is coming anyway if we do nothing, and that will likely be after we have destroyed the planet. Obviously, if this was easy, like most huge problems, it would have been done by now. But not starting to at least discuss it, leads us further down the path we are on now.

  28. Jack April 17th, 2017 12:22 pm

    Thanks to all for this discussion. I’ve bookmarked three of the article on climate modeling and skimmed them. Will do a deep read soon. I’ve found this useful, its Lawrence Livermore national lab graphic summary of U.S. energy consumption: https://flowcharts.llnl.gov/

    I have Biologist friends, sadly, no climate researcher friends.

  29. Bruno Schull April 18th, 2017 10:37 am

    Another thread about global warming! Yeah! I’ll try not to write too much 🙂 This discussion has often touched on engineering projects to slow down global warming. I just read an article atmospheric engineering. To be clear, I don’t believe in the whole chem trail conspiracy theory, but this is thought provoking. Would more fine particles in the atmosphere lead to more condensation nuclei and thus more (sort of) wild snow?

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/magazine/is-it-ok-to-engineer-the-environment-to-fight-climate-change.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

  30. Lou Dawson 2 April 18th, 2017 10:53 am

    Bruno, you’re late to the party! (smile)

  31. Bruno Schull April 18th, 2017 11:19 am

    Better late than never (smile). I have to say, that NYT article is really interesting, and really pertinent to various past discussions on this site. Plus, the researcher in question is a back country skier! Maybe you could contact him, share our rambling comment discussions, and ask him to write a guest post?

  32. Lou Dawson 2 April 18th, 2017 6:00 pm

    More interesting reading.

    Anyone guess at which country actually produces/consumes the most renewable energy?

    http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/top-15-countries-using-renewable-energy.html

    And Bruno, thanks for that article link.

    Lou

  33. Bob Berwyn April 20th, 2017 10:13 am

    Austrians measure their glaciers losses year by year, meter by meter, and they’ve been doing it since 1870. In 2016 they retreated by an average 46 feet. Some shrunk by 200-plus feet and they are thinning by 1 meter per year. http://p.dw.com/p/2bC0E

  34. Bob Berwyn April 20th, 2017 10:19 am

    And it’s not just the glaciers. Lou, I know you travel to the Alps frequently and I’m sure you’ve talked to the old-timers about snow. The Swiss, known to be pretty meticulous about measurements, recently did a snowpack study, finding that snow season (days with snow on the ground) has shortened by 37 days since 1970. That’s across the entire country at all elevations and aspects. The average maximum snow depth at the sites dropped by 25 percent. More details here: https://psmag.com/thanks-to-climate-change-the-alps-are-losing-snow-4634fe2117b1

  35. Al April 20th, 2017 10:34 am

    Closer to home, some estimates are that glacier park won’t have any by as early as mid century.

  36. Lou Dawson 2 April 20th, 2017 11:50 am

    Old news. And…?

  37. Al April 20th, 2017 1:02 pm

    Some of the more sober realists in climate scientists think we may be at or past the point of no return, as in no matter what we do, we are headed for a catastrophe and no amount of co2 reduction can save us.

  38. Bruno Schull July 10th, 2017 1:02 am

    Here’s a good article written by a climate scientist about current challenges–he also talks about a crevasse fall he took near Chamonix many years ago, and how that experience helped form his experience. Cool that he was/is a climber.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/07/05/im-a-climate-scientist-and-im-not-letting-trickle-down-ignorance-win/?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-e%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.2ff38d62ca90

  39. Lou Dawson 2 July 10th, 2017 8:38 am

    Hi Bruno, thanks for the link. I found the article to be well written, but to me it wasn’t necessarily that great. It’s just a diatribe about our current administration. Yada yada yada. At least we now have someone to blame for the melting glaciers. And in 100 years when it really is so scorching hot that life on earth goes extinct, we can think back to 4 years around 2017, in the United States, that caused it all to happen. What was that guy’s name again? (smile). Lou

  40. Bruno Schull July 10th, 2017 10:10 am

    Hi Lou. Yeah, I didn’t think you would particularly engage with the message. No use arguing that here. But, as you said, it’s well written. Also, in one of the GW threads here somebody posed the question, “What is a climate scientist?” I guess this guy is a climate scientist. Also, I think it’s pretty cool that he was a climber. Last, the article caught my attention because I was just at the Argentierre refuge for a few days rock climbing. We considered climbing the Aiguille de Argentierre by the normal glacier route, where the author had an adventure, but decided not to, because of the very high temperatures, and the dangerously thin condition of the glacier (which is sort of ironic, given the context of the article’s opener, and the principal theme!). Better to wait until winter, when the normal route is (usually) a nice ski tour. All the best.

  41. Lou Dawson 2 July 10th, 2017 10:27 am

    Fair enough. I just wish the guy had actually informed me of something, in return for the time taken reading. Good you found a real climate scientist… but perhaps there are ones that have some constructive ideas on how to proceed.

    I spent a bit of time googling but didn’t find much when my criteria was that the article was actually written by a scientist.

    Also, I want to find someone who uses the term “solve” global warming rather than “fight.” Fighting is just another word for “try,” as in “try to move this rock” as opposed to “move this rock.”

    Lou

  42. Kristian July 10th, 2017 10:46 am

    Just got some forgotten email alerts from this thread.

    Lou,
    Please tell us what you believe about climate change and what you believe needs to be done.

  43. Lou Dawson 2 July 10th, 2017 11:44 am

    Hi Kristian, my views are as nuanced as most of you guys, so difficult to nutshell. Also, just because I know how to mount ski bindings, I’m fully aware that doesn’t make me a climate scientist (smile) and I’d much rather see a bunch of comments here from you guys with your ideas, than me talking to myself. In any case, while I don’t like to use the words “believe” and “belief” when it comes to global warming caused by climate change (I like those words better for spiritual matters, and the words “truth” and “facts” when it comes to science), here is my take in a nutshell, though it probably needs editing:

    https://www.wildsnow.com/602/wildsnow-environmental-manifesto/

    I don’t have any strong opinions on what “we” could do to reverse global warming. Lot’s of that depends on the definition of “we” and discussing all that might be beyond the scope of a comment thread on a ski website. A big problem is clearly that the whole world contributes to the problem, and as more countries and populations industrialize, what “we” do as U.S. citizens is actually going to have a lessened effect. At the same time, just because we have more money than they do, handing them cash to help them develop renewables seems insane to me, knowing how corrupt many if not most governments are. Further, little pesky things raise their heads, like, what if we stopped all food exports and just grew food for ourselves, would that have a significant effect on the carbon burden of our industrial agriculture and make our numbers like better, and in the meantime, what about folks who depend on that food? Many more pesky details like that. Lou

  44. Kristian July 10th, 2017 3:49 pm

    I read the link.

    Remember, it is not just the scientific community, it is also the military branches and intelligence agencies that affirm Global Warming. (Hint: They fund much of the research because of they have to plan for impending consequences.)

    The Boulder Colorado area is home to several national laboratories and organizations that are an important part of Global Warming research.

    CIRES, NOAA, INSTAAR, NCAR, NEON, UNAVCO, NIST, UNIDATA

    You should schedule some visits asap.

    I recommend starting with Waleed Abdalati, recent former NASA Chief Scientist, now head of CIRES.

    You can catch him here and you and your readers can learn to directly participate in science.

    http://www.pbs.org/show/crowd-cloud/

    What say you and others?

  45. Tom M. November 21st, 2017 8:44 am

    Hi Lou,

    I’m very happy to stand corrected for accusing Wild snow of not wanting to deal with Climate Change. I think it should be more of a priority though. Wild snow has thousands of readers and and these readers should be encouraged to write their people in congress and demand change. Imagine if we could get hundreds to write on one issue in one day. They would take notice for sure. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

  46. Lou Dawson 2 November 21st, 2017 8:49 am

    Tom, above, recently chimed in on another comment thread, asking if we could do more coverage of climate change, specifically regarding current lack of precip and warm Autumn temperatures in Colorado. While we do cover climate change quite frequently, for example in our news roundups, there are a few issues with this everyone should be aware of.

    – We are an international website, sometimes with more traffic from Europe than from North America or for that matter Colorado.

    – We feel global warming is indeed a huge issue, but we also have grave concerns about subjects such as hunger, human trafficking, nuclear proliferation, mental health, avalanche safety and other things that might not affect us directly at the moment, but may affect us in the future or currently affect people who are perhaps only a few handshakes removed from our immediate circle.

    Another thing: Here at WildSnow we do cover politics, but we strictly do so in a non-attack style that emphasises civility and constructive dialog. We also ask that political discussion stays specific to issues directly related to ski touring, and we adamantly enforce our rules against personal attacks and general rude or otherwise petty attacks on our political leadership, no matter what year or what party is in power.

    I try to explain our editorial policy about environmental issues in the following blog post, which I do edit occasionally as my views do change.

    https://www.wildsnow.com/602/wildsnow-environmental-manifesto/

  47. Lou Dawson 2 November 21st, 2017 8:56 am

    Tom, the problem is that asking for “change” won’t, in my opinion, have any effect whatsoever on the process of global warming. Firstly, we need to decide what exactly would be the things we’d do that would make that change, then ask for them specifically. The best I’ve seen in that regard is asking for regulatory changes that would encourage more nuclear power development. Even then, our country is fast becoming just a part of global CO2 production, not the most nefarious actor, especially when you back out our CO2 produced from agriculture that feeds other countries with food exports… and so on… complex.

    The other “change” I’d advocate is immediate study of climate engineering such as atmospheric sulfur dioxide introduction.

    And then there is the issue of adaptation to things such as rising sea levels, that appear to be inevitable no matter how many solar panels we mount up.

    Lou

  48. Tom M. November 21st, 2017 6:31 pm

    Let’s start with nuclear waste. Who’s backyard does it end up in? The answer is always, “not mine”. Not to mention the exorbitant cost of building, maintaining and decommissioning nuclear power plants. That is why they are not being built very much. It is just not sound financially. I’ll keep my solar panels, which at this point are now the least expensive way to create electricity. It is clean and does not add harm to the environment. Climate engineering? Great, let’s dim the sun. The last thing I want to see is our government or any other playing with our climate. Who would you trust to run this operation?? The U.S., U.N., Great Britain? Or maybe Putin? Do you really want to take the chance that someone might “screw up big time”. Climate change is affecting the world, not just Colorado. So I’m sure your readers around the world would be interested. Particularly those in Europe who are watching their glaciers melt away. I am glad to hear you care about hunger, human trafficking, nuclear proliferation, mental health and avalanche safety. So do I. But Climate change and the loss of our national lands affects us skiers directly. Don’t you find it odd that we are the only industrial nation that does not belong to the Paris Accord. Perhaps America’s greed will be its downfall. I just read your Environmental Manifesto. It is 10 years old. A lot has happened since 2007. I respect your views though I disagree with them. Conversation between differing opinions is always healthy. What type of world will Louie inherit with soaring temperature and water supplies dwindling. Good Luck.

  49. See November 21st, 2017 7:22 pm

    My problem with Lou’s position is that undermining confidence in alternatives like conservation and solar becomes a self fulfilling prophecy— if we think that they won’t work, then they won’t. And we’re left with nuclear plants and dumping more large quantities of questionable stuff into the atmosphere.

  50. See November 21st, 2017 7:53 pm

    Also, I haven’t seen the research that proves we’re just totally screwed re. climate.

  51. See November 21st, 2017 8:02 pm

    In other words, how do we know conservation and alternative energy won’t work?

  52. Al November 21st, 2017 8:45 pm

    Actually I’ve seen a few papers that say we’re past the tipping point on several fronts. Ex Greenland icecap has been melting at an accelerating rate since 1997 and shows no sign of slowing down. It will raise the oceans 24′. After a brief leveling off (not a decrease), co2 levels are going up again. Being that there are 7.6 billion of us, most of whom are trying to live like westerners I’m surprised we’ve made the tiny amount of progress we have, but in the end I think the numbers are totally against us.

  53. Lou Dawson 2 November 22nd, 2017 6:06 am

    Tom M, thanks for commenting. Good point about not trusting government to solve our problems. Utopia will never happen, that seems to be fairly certain… Lou

  54. Lou Dawson 2 November 22nd, 2017 6:18 am

    P.S., I got curious as to how much “national land” we’ve lost so far, pretty sure you’re talking about Federal land, perhaps state land… couldn’t find any good information. Can you share some of the resources you’re using to stay up to speed on that? I found a lot of websites “fighting” the taking of public lands, but I couldn’t find any data on how much taking is taking place already. We indeed have some local issue here in Colorado with that sort of thing, usually involving land swaps that sometimes do result in a net loss of acreage to private ownership, but not always, and sometimes the proponents claim that even though the acreage of the swap is uneven, the public still benefits by acquiring land that’s more useful for recreation (though I’m usually not in agreement with that, on principle, yet can see their point and might agree in certain cases).

  55. See November 22nd, 2017 9:27 am

    Al, I hear you. I’m not expecting solar panels, smart buildings and electric cars to restore our environment to preindustrial conditions, I’m just saying they could help prevent a bad situation from being even worse, and they have many other benefits like cleaner air.

  56. Lou Dawson 2 November 22nd, 2017 10:40 am

    There might be some sort of climate magic wand, but at this time it’s not solar panels, though I do like them as much as the next guy, if I can forget about how much the batteries cost, anyway. Probably good to remind some of you that we do have an entirely off-grid cabin with internet, lighting, etc, powered by PV other than occasional backup generator for heavy internet use at night or during storms. I did all the electrical work myself, so I have a modicum of knowledge about these systems, though I’m not even close to electrical engineering (occasionally much to my regret). It’s kinda fun to power everything from sun, though to keep the warm glow going one has to forget about power sources used in manufacturing and shipping all that cool off-grid equipment and material. Lou

  57. See November 22nd, 2017 11:32 am

    No need to remind me, Lou. I’m probably one of your more devoted readers, and if you feel I mischaracterize your position I hope you will correct me. Re. magic wands: I’m not saying alternative energy/conservation/etc. will surely be our environmental salvation, just that they are obvious ways to mitigate a serious problem. The perfect is often the enemy of the good, and this can be very detrimental.

  58. Lou Dawson 2 November 22nd, 2017 2:22 pm

    See, thanks, yeah, I was writing more for the general discussion, appreciate you being here, for sure. Lou

  59. Liza Grey June 28th, 2018 6:32 am

    The climate change is a very important subject which concerns each person on the Earth. Now and then the mass media shows the information about increasing of the surface temperature, permafrost thaw, shrinkage of glacier surface and polar seas (and that causes rising of sea and ocean level and water softening occurs). And it’s not accounting the seismic activity! Here you can see the statistics on-line mode https://allatra.tv/en/earthquakes. Let’s take Yellowstone as an example. Since the end of March 2014 an increase in the seismic activity has been detected there. More over, the local hot springs have considerably become active. The climate is changing and you can tell it with the naked eye.





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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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