Ski industry OK in hotter climate
JOHN EDENS IN QUEENSTOWN
A three-year climate change study of the Southern Lakes predicts less snow, warmer temperatures, more rain and more wind by 2040.
However, the upshot is the region's cornerstone ski industry can survive with appropriate mitigation and investment, tourism representatives were told yesterday.
Lincoln University researchers met industry bosses to deliver the results of an academic study into the region's predicted climate change.
Adjunct professor of sustainable tourism at Lincoln University Susanne Becken and her team predict warmer temperatures, more rain, more wind and fewer frosts.
Previously, a 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature by the end of the century was predicted but revised models predicted the increase would take place by 2040, she said.
NZSki Coronet Peak ski area manager Hamish McCrostie said the changes would not happen overnight but it was a significant investment [factor].
"Climate change is part of reality and we cannot bury our heads in the sand," he said.
The proposed development at The Remarkables - a new chairlift to the Curvy Basin - was related to the skifield's higher elevation and part of the company's long-term strategy, Mr McCrostie said.
Prof Becken said the model predicted it would stay cold enough to allow snow making and climate change would not spell the end of the snow industry. "In a worst case, by 2090 snow making will still be possible at all sites."
The model suggested that by 2040 there would be between 99 and 126 skiable days compared with 81-91 days in Australia.
By 2090, New Zealand would have between 52 and 110 skiable days, while Australia would have between zero and 48.
Otago University PhD student Debbie Hopkins studied tourism in Queenstown and said visitors headed to the resort to take part in a range of activities.
"Australia is more vulnerable to climate change," she said.
The Government funded project on climate change in Queenstown and Wanaka studied tourism and weather and how to best deal with predicted changes.
Prof Becken said Queenstown and Wanaka were winter and summer destinations, so significant change would not write off the tourism sector.
"The winter season, however, is largely anchored around skiing and our snow models show that skifields will increasingly rely on artificial snow making to ensure snow reliability.
"Later this century, temperatures will get so warm that the windows for snow making will become quite limited."
Destination Queenstown communications manager Jen Andrews said operators recognised tourism was a dynamic industry and operators had to be nimble.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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