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Jason Kephart College Composition 15 December 2011

Global Warming: The End of Snow Sports in New England. Winter sports in the northeast have been popular for a long time. A majority of the population enjoy winter in the area for the sports and other activities you can participate in. Many businesses depend on the winter season to survive and snow is essential to their success. From ski resorts and local businesses that sell ski and snowboard equipment, to snowmobile retailers and the tourists that visit the area. All these depend on snowfall and cold temperatures to stay in business. If the current trends continue dramatic changes to the winter season will continue and may cause the end of snow sports for the northeast in the next century. Northeast winters have been in decline for years. Warmer temperatures and a decline in snowfall have been significantly shortening the length and quality of the season. In New Hampshire alone the economic impact between a cold and snowy winter and a warm slushy winter is significant. With a reduction of 15 percent of downhill skiers, 30 percent decline in cross-county skiers, and snowmobile license sales down 26 percent. (Global) The economic impact over the next 50 years will be substantial.

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As temperatures continue to rise less precipitation in the form of snow will fall and will be replaced by rain. What snowfall that does accumulate will melt more quickly leaving little to no snow on the ground. By the end of the 21st century the length of the winter snow season could be cut in half, with only western Maine expected to retain a reliable ski season. (Global) Snowfall in New England is highly variable, southern parts receive the lowest snowfall totals with approximately 35 inches per year. Northern New England receives substantially more snowfall with mountainous regions averaging over 100 inches per year. Mount Washington receives an average of 254 inches per year with elevation enhancing snowfall totals. Between 1953 and 1994 there has been nearly a 15% decrease in snowfall in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. From 1996 to the present winters have been unusually mild, resulting in lost revenues for the ski industry. (Keim) Information on snow-on-ground data has been collected by many organizations including State Offices and the Army Corps of Engineers. Snow cover on the ground has decreased by approximately seven days over the past 50 years. Northern New Hampshire has had significant snowpack declines falling 14.5 days and various declines throughout the region, with northern Maine showing no change in snowpack over the years. (Keim)

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Total snowfall is an important indicator of winter weather and is an important factor of everyday winter life in New England. Snow is of vital importance to the tourism industry, sales to many businesses, and a key aspect of New England culture. Most of the region depends heavily on profits during the winter season generated from skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers. Over the past 30 years, weather stations in New England have experienced significant decreases in snowfall. Many locations have had decreases as high as 60 inches or more per season. Overall, northern parts of the region have had less of a decrease than southern parts, but overall the entire region is in decline. (Wake) Measuring total days with snow on the ground like total snowfall is an important indicator of winter weather. Unfortunately, few weather stations have recorded the presence of snow on the ground until the 1970s. New ways of observing snow cover including satellite images are now showing snow cover extent in the Northern Hemisphere have decreased by 10% since 1966. This is strongly related to temperature increases. Data from stations in the Northeast are consistent with the trend and support a decrease in the number of days with snow on the ground. In 2001 Northeast stations show on average 16 fewer days with snow on the ground than in 1970. Some areas including Durham, NH have shown almost a month fewer days with snow on the ground. (Wake)

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Ice out dates on New England lakes have been affected as well with a trend in ice out dates occurring earlier over the past 100 years. Ice-out dates are readily available indicators of climate conditions. Ice-out is the day the majority of the lake is melted in the spring. Data has been recorded for many years on the major lakes in the Northeast. Frozen lakes in New England are used for many purposes from recreational to commercial purposes. Snowmobiling, ice fishing, and sled-dog racing attract many tourists and are important to the Northeasts tourism economy. These results suggest the New England region is experiencing a warming trend affecting winter sports on regional lakes. (Wake) Ice-out dates have considerable year-to-year variations. Average ice-out for many lakes in New England occur 6 days earlier than in 1925. Over the last 30 years data shows average ice-out occurring 13 days earlier in 2000 compared to 1970. Lake Champlain in Vermont has been recording ice-out for over 186 years. Over that time the lake did not completely freeze over for 31 winters. Half of the years the lake didnt freeze over occurred since 1970. This information further supports rising temperatures in New England. (Wake) Temperatures play a major role in winter precipitation, since 1899 the average annual temperature in the Northeast has increased by 1.8 degrees. Over the last 30 years, winter temperatures have increased by 4.4 degrees and continue to rise. (Wake)

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Snowfall in New England has decreased significantly in favor of rain during the last half of the 20th century, according to a study by the U.S. Geological survey.(Geologists) The study adds further evidence of warming over the years and could be trouble to businesses that depend on skiers and snowmobilers. Information from weather sites all over New England have measured a trend from 1949 to 2000 with significantly less snow over that time period. (Geologists) Looking at just the economic impact of the state of New Hampshire and winter sports, skiing and snowboarding generates more than $650 million a year. Snowmobiling, another major winter sport in the area generates $3 billion a year for the regional economy. Ice fishing derbies as well have been a big part of the winter season and draw many tourists to the area bringing customers to local businesses helping to keep local economies strong. (New) Concluding my research Ive found that if we dont change the way we do things and global warming continues, by the end of the 21st century winter sports could be a thing of the past for New England.

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Works Cited
"Geologists: Snowfall in New England on Decline." Hour [Norwalk] 27 July 2004: A23. Print. "Global Warming Impact Zones | U.S. New England." The Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming. Web. 14 Dec. 2011. Keim, Barry, and Barret Rock. "THE NEW ENGLAND REGIONS CHANGING CLIMATE." New England Regional Assessment. Web. 15 Dec. 2011. "New Hampshire: Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast." Climate Choices. Union of Concerned Scientists. Web. 14 Dec. 2011. "Northeast." United States Global Change Research Program. Web. 14 Dec. 2011. Wake, Cameron. "Indicators of Climate Change in the Northeast over the Past 100 Years.Climate and Farming. Web. 14 Dec. 2011.