There are no longer any ski areas in Europe that are guaranteed snow”

There is a lack of snow in the Black Forest and in the Alps. The Strasbourg geography professor de Jong draws attention to the consequences of the expansion of ski areas. Is year-round tourism the solution?

Anyone who is currently planning a winter holiday in Europe will be disappointed in many places. Because in the Black Forest and in the Alps, heat and lack of snow characterize the current winter sports season. Often it is even too warm to produce artificial snow. A situation that will probably not remain an exception. According to the Strasbourg geography professor Carmen de Jong, winter tourism must adapt more to the consequences of climate change. “There are no longer any ski areas in Europe that are guaranteed snow,” said de Jong of the German Press Agency in Strasbourg. This also applies to the high altitudes of the Alps.

For her, snow-sure means that you can ski anytime between December 1st and the end of March. The area should not be dependent on artificial snow or snow transported by truck or helicopter. De Jong said that regardless of climate change, attempts are being made to extend the ski season.

No snow-reliable ski areas in Europe also mean “holey” winter season

“Without snowmaking with snow cannons and snow lances, winter sports would no longer be possible for a long time,” said the university lecturer with a view of the Black Forest. This applies both to higher-lying areas such as the Feldberg and to lower-lying areas such as Seibelseckle. If the trend continues, she expects winter to become shorter and more “holey”. “You cannot define the winter season as a success if it is not continuous.”

De Jong drew attention to the environmental impact of reservoirs, which are necessary for large-scale artificial snowmaking. The water for this often comes from great distances, and pumping it up causes high energy costs. “The reservoirs in the Alps with capacities of up to 400,000 cubic meters are oversized because there is never enough water available locally,” said the hydrology (water science) expert. A new trend is even tapping the groundwater.

Conservationists against the use of snow cannons

In view of the energy crisis, the Bund Naturschutz in Bayern had already appealed to operators at the end of November to refrain from using snow cannons altogether. Another demand was that the Bavarian state government should not issue any further permits for the operation. Bavaria should also coordinate with Austria and Switzerland in order to achieve a solution for the entire Alpine region.

De Jong pointed out that a new course is already being set in some places in France. In the Drôme department to the south, for example, investments should no longer be made in artificial snow. The main reason there is the protection of water resources. Instead, four-season tourism will be promoted. “Far less investments are needed for this type of tourism.” That could be worthwhile – even if guests spend less money in the summer.

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