Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-270
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-270

  02 Sep 2021

02 Sep 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Past changes in natural and managed snow reliability of French Alps ski resorts from 1961 to 2018

Lucas Berard-Chenu1,2, Hugues François1, Emmanuelle George1, and Samuel Morin2 Lucas Berard-Chenu et al.
  • 1Univ. Grenoble Alpes, INRAE, LESSEM, 38000 Grenoble, France
  • 2Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Université de Toulouse, Météo-France, CNRS, CNRM, Centre d’Etudes de la Neige, 38000 Grenoble, France

Abstract. Snow reliability is a key climatic impact driver for the ski tourism industry, for which there is more literature regarding future projections than past observed impacts. This study provides an assessment of past changes in natural and managed snow cover reliability from 1961 to 2018 in the French Alps. In particular, we used snowmaking investment figures to infer the evolution of snowmaking coverage at the ski resort scale for 16 ski resorts in the French Alps. We find different benefits of snow management to reduce the variability and long term decrease in snow cover reliability because of the heterogeneity of the snowmaking deployment trajectories across ski resorts. The frequency of challenging conditions for ski resort operation over the 1991–2018 period increased in November and February to April compared to the reference period 1961–1990. In general, snowmaking had a positive impact on snow reliability, especially in December to January. While for the highest elevation ski resorts, snowmaking improved snow reliability for the core of the winter season, it did not counterbalance the decreasing trend in snow cover reliability for lower elevation ski resorts and in the spring.

Lucas Berard-Chenu et al.

Status: open (until 28 Oct 2021)

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Lucas Berard-Chenu et al.

Lucas Berard-Chenu et al.

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Short summary
This study investigates the past snow reliability (1961–2018) of 16 ski resorts in the French Alps using state-of-the-art snowpack modelling. We used snowmaking investment figures to infer the evolution of snowmaking coverage at individual ski resort level. Snowmaking improved snow reliability for the core of the winter season for the highest elevation ski resorts. However it did not counterbalance the decreasing trend in snow cover reliability for lower elevation ski resorts and in the spring.