California ski resorts can offer empathy to our friends down under. New Zealand’s ski slopes are running out of snow three months into the winter season. And just as with West Coast areas last season, some popular ski resorts in the Southern Hemisphere have not opened because of the lack of snow. The winter there is described as the warmest Southern Hemisphere winter since records began in 1909.
Although one dry winter does not necessarily establish a trend, the lack of snow happens at a time when the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, or NIWA, of New Zealand is studying climate change. NIWA scientists have found that the country’s glaciers are melting at an alarming rate because of climate change.
According to a new study, New Zealand’s Southern Alps have lost 34 per cent of its permanent ice and snow since 1977. Researchers from the University of Auckland and the University of Otago said the dramatic ice loss has accelerated in the last 15 years.
The larger ski areas in New Zealand were able to open because they invested in snow-making equipment. These resorts help New Zealand attract more than 60,000 skiers from Australia alone between June and August.
Queenstown’s Coronet Peak has 200 snow guns operating night and day whenever it hits below freezing temperature. However, New Zealand still depends on ski areas with natural snow and many of them are preparing for negative profits for the year. The smaller ski areas rely on the income from tourism to stay open with volunteers as staff. These small operators do not have the funds to invest in equipment to make artificial snow.