If you’ve been hitting the slopes this winter, there’s a good chance you’ve been carving in less than ideal conditions. Thanks to global warming, ski resorts around the world have been struggling with warmer, shorter seasons, and relying heavily on snow machines just to keep their ski runs open.
Over the past decade, it’s become ever clearer that climate change has been ravaging the ski industry. The Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) has estimated that during this time, reduced snowfall and warmer temperatures have cost businesses in the United States alone, up to $1 billion, so is it any wonder they’re turning to snow machines?
However, these machines are by no means a perfect fix. Not only do they still require temperatures to be below freezing to work, the biggest problem is that they use up huge amounts of energy, and end up pumping out so much heat, that in the long-run they’re only adding to the detrimental effects of rising temperatures, and in turn, risking the future of snow sports. According to the NRDC, up to half of all the energy consumed by ski resorts now goes to making snow.
Thankfully, a team of Norwegian scientists have been working on a solution. Researchers at Scandinavia’s largest independent research institute, SINTEF, and at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, believe that they can design an energy efficient snow machine, which will keep snow sports sustainable. They plan to do this by adapting the same technology a domestic fridge uses.
The theory is that nearby buildings could be heated up with the heat generated by the pumps in the machines, as they cool water to be turned into snow outside. With hopes of 100% heat recovery, this could put an end to the vicious, climate-warming circle current snow machines are a part of.
With the help of funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, the team hope to have a prototype ready next year. So here’s hoping for a sustainable future in the snow.
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