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Publication Date


Document Type


Study Type

ENX 301; Environmental Concentration


Environmental Science and Policy


Paul Wetzel


In this report, we discuss the impacts that climate change and diminishing winters will have on the winter tourism and recreation industry. Specifically, we focus on the effect of limited and varied snowfall on downhill skiing in the U.S. We reviewed sustainability plans, and conducted interviews with resort managers, industry specialists, and organization representatives to better understand the challenges of climate change to the ski industry and how ski resorts are adapting.

The ski industry in the US will be affected by climate change with reductions in the length of snow periods, increasing variability of temperatures, and decreased consistency of cold temperatures. When snow falls during the year is almost as important as how much snow falls. There are three major ski areas in the US: the Northeast, upper Midwest, and Western, and each area faces different climatic and economic challenges. The effects of climate change and the potential solutions are very geographically site specific. Therefore, despite all the recommendations presented, many ski facilities have closed and it is expected that in certain areas resorts will continue to close in the near future.


© the authors