Report warns that state's winter tourist industry headed downhill due to warming

Jeff MulhollemA spirited debate about climate change has been going on in the pages of Pennsylvania Outdoor News in recent months. Readers have noticed that hatches of aquatic insects occur earlier in the spring than they used to, wild flowers bloom earlier and ice comes later — if at all — to Keystone State Lakes.

The ice-fishing season, where it exists,  is much briefer than it used to be in Pennsylvania.

Now a new analysis conducted for the Natural Resources Defense Council and Protect Our Winters has detailed the devastating economic impact that climate change could have on the winter tourism industry in Pennsylvania and the rest of the nation. The analysis finds that the $12.2 billion ski and snowmobile industry is dependent on heavy and predictable snowfall, and changes in the winter season snowfall have already been felt across the nation.

Many scientists predict that winter warming is  likely to become even more pronounced with climate change.

The study aims to help policy makers understand both the ski and snowmobile industry's current economic scale and the potential economic impacts that climate change may cause, as well as the effects the industry is already feeling in Pennsylvania and the rest of the nation from reduced snowpack and rising winter temperatures over the last decade. Just this past ski season, 50 percent of ski resorts opened late and 48 percent closed early with every region experiencing a decrease in the days of operation.

Winter sports resorts are not the only ones affected by this shift; a reduced and shortened winter season will also hurt the secondary related industries of lodging, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores and entertainment.

There is no agreement about why the weather seems to be getting warmer, on average. But there does seem to be a growing concensus that it is happening.

Categories: Pennsylvania – Jeff Mulhollem

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