Two current studies show that despite global warming, skiing remains the core activity of Vorarlberg’s cable cars.
Understandably, mountain railway operators are anything but unaffected by climate change. The mountain landscape, but especially the weather and climate, is their basis of existence.
It is therefore no surprise that this profession is closely confronted with the consequences of climate change. New studies from GeoSphere Austria, commissioned by Silvretta Montafon and independently by the Oberstdorf Kleinwalsertal Bergbahnen, have now examined the regional development of natural snow and snowmaking. The results were presented on Friday by those responsible for the Vorarlberger Bergbahnen.
Snow will remain, but not for very long
First of all, the reassuring news: you can still ski in Vorarlberg for the next 30 years. However, the duration of the natural snow cover will become increasingly shorter. At an altitude of 1,500 meters in the Silvretta Montafon area, a reduction from 134 to 117 days can be expected; at an altitude of 2,400 meters the duration of the snow cover is reduced from 270 to 255 days. In the Kleinwalsertal, a decrease from 219 to 209 days can be expected at an altitude of 1900 meters, and at lower altitudes from 129 to 116 days. In all these calculations, the study authors assumed that global warming would be above the Paris target of plus two degrees Celsius.
Snowmaking and focus on autumn
For the mountain railways, this means that skiing will remain the core business for the time being, even though more and more snow is needed: “On the one hand, in terms of the planning security that guests expect. On the other hand, the basic snow supply must be secured in the long term,” says Andreas Gapp from the Vorarlberg cable cars. However, the focus is increasingly on autumn, as it brings increasingly higher temperatures, automatically extending the summer season in the Vorarlberg mountains.
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