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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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climate change

Climate change impacts on VIC mountains – less snow, more fires

The Victorian government has recently released the ‘Climate Science Report 2019’, which brings together the latest climate change science knowledge gained from the government’s ongoing investigations into climate science. The report provides further useful insights into both how our climate is changing and what it means for Victoria’s future.

In many ways, there is nothing new in the report. It notes that Victoria’s climate has ‘changed in recent decades, becoming warmer and drier’. These changes are expected to continue in the future.

In general terms, the state’s environment is becoming hotter and drier, with

  • an overall increase in the frequency of unusually hot days
  • a decline in cool season rainfall over the last 30 years
  • greater number of very high fire danger days in spring

There are some details relevant to mountain environments, which we will outline briefly below (as direct quotes).

Continue reading “Climate change impacts on VIC mountains – less snow, more fires”

#ClimateImpactVic map launched

Act on Climate Victoria, the climate change campaign at Friends of the Earth Victoria, has launched an interactive map which shows details of climate change impacts on local communities, businesses and landscapes across the state.

It notes that snow cover has declined across the Alps since the 1950s. You can submit your observations of climate change impacts for inclusion in the map.

Continue reading “#ClimateImpactVic map launched”

‘Climate Cycle to Canberra’ to cross the Alps twice

The Climate Cycle to Canberra is an unsupported, adventurous, ‘non-charity’ bike ride from Melbourne to Canberra in aid of emergency climate action in Australia.

Unlike a standard charity ride, riders ask supporters for pledges of ‘action’ rather than money. These actions are aimed at moving us towards our political goals.

The riders say: ‘we want to create the conditions in which an effective, society-wide response to the climate crisis is possible. The first step is to get our politicians to declare a climate emergency’.

The main ride will be departing from Federation Square in Melbourne at 9am on Saturday the 23rd of November.

Continue reading “‘Climate Cycle to Canberra’ to cross the Alps twice”

A ski resort that runs on 100% wind power

Lots of people and businesses in the snow industry are doing great things to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and advocate for serious political action to respond to the existential threat posed by climate change.

There are lots of inspiring initiatives, like Thredbo resort in NSW who have announced that it will ensure that ‘all its major resort operations are now powered by renewable energy’ or Mt Abram, in the North East of the USA, who installed 3,190 solar panels to become completely reliant on renewable power to meet its energy needs (lots more stories here).

We haven’t yet covered this story: Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort is the largest resort in the southern New England region of the USA. It is also the only mountain resort in North America to generate its own energy using wind power.

Continue reading “A ski resort that runs on 100% wind power”

An ‘unprecedented’ number of plume dominated fires.

We know that climate change is driving hotter and drier summers, and making fire seasons worse, and this is already impacting on mountain environments. Last summer there were significant fires across eastern Victoria and the Victorian Mountains, as well as in Tasmania. While the largest one burned in the Bunyip state park about 65km east of Melbourne, there were also fires which closed the Southern Alps and Foothills areas of the Alpine National Park, especially around Dargo and Licola.

One of the features of these fires was the formation of pyrocumulus clouds (as shown in the image above, taken from the north of the fire burning out of the Dargo River and onto the Dargo High Plains, with Mt Blowhard in the foreground). The Licola fire burnt with such ferocity it was visible on the Bureau of Meteorology’s radar. A huge thundercloud formed from the fire, which then produced more than 1,200 lightning strikes, some of which sparked new fires. It created unpredictable weather conditions that hampered fire fighting efforts.

Continue reading “An ‘unprecedented’ number of plume dominated fires.”

Climate change pushing the alpine zone off mountains

We know that temperatures are increasing around the planet, and that this temperature increase is not uniform – areas at higher latitudes are experiencing a faster warming than areas closer to the equator. We also know that our own alpine environments are being affected by more erratic snow seasons, greater drought and longer fire seasons, and that this is affecting both plant and animal communities. This warming is more apparent at higher elevations.

Australia’s higher mountain ranges are relatively low and located at moderate latitudes. Our alpine zones are often quite isolated from each other, which increases the risk of localised species or community loss if a devastating fire impacts any particular area. We know that the snow line is rising and snowpack is in decline. As the snowline gets higher, warmer conditions will allow species to colonise higher up the mountain zones, potentially meaning that, over time, true alpine vegetation communities are ‘pushed’ off the top of mountains. For instance, recent research conducted by Brodie Verrall and Catherine Pickering from Griffith University found that subalpine grasslands will be impacted by ‘warmer and drier conditions becoming more common and repeat fires in some areas’, (resulting in changes to) ‘the distribution and composition of this and other communities in the Australian Alps’.

Continue reading “Climate change pushing the alpine zone off mountains”

Backlash forces International Ski Federation to adopt pro-climate position

You might remember when the president of the International Ski Federation (FIS) Gian Franco Kasper went on-the-record in February, denying human-caused climate change and the science that supports it? Many in the snow sports community were suitably outraged, and Protect Our Winters (POW) started a letter writing campaign to ensure that FIS adopted a position consistent with mainstream climate science.

Following the campaign, FIS announced this week that it had joined the U.N. Sports for Climate Action Framework and made it part of its sustainability policy.

POW reports that ‘after seven months and more than 9,000 letters sent to FIS from the outdoor community, check out what we’ve accomplished together––it’s encouraging news and shows what the outdoor community is capable of’.

Continue reading “Backlash forces International Ski Federation to adopt pro-climate position”

How the outdoor industry supported #ClimateStrike

In the last few days, millions of people from around the world marched to demand serious action on climate change. While the climate strikes were initiated and led by students, people from all walks of life joined in. From First Nations people to unionists, a huge cross section of society were out and on the streets. Girls in Afghanistan, school students in Uganda, small rural communities and more than 2,600 businesses in Australia alone.

As we know, climate change poses an existential threat to wild landscapes across the planet. So how did the outdoor community, and the businesses that rely on a healthy outdoor environment support the strike?

For me, a local standout was the climate strike event organised at Mt Hotham in the Victorian Alps. While ski resorts in Australia have been slow to act on emissions, change is slowly coming and this community-led initiative gives me hope.

What else happened?

Continue reading “How the outdoor industry supported #ClimateStrike”

Support the #climatestrike – wherever you are

On September 20 people around the world will be standing up to confront the climate crisis because our politicians won’t.

Australia is already on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Prolonged drought. Flash flooding. Erratic winters. Catastrophic bushfires, severe cyclones and heatwaves. But just at the time when we need to ramp up climate solutions, our government wants to open the floodgates to new coal, oil and gas projects that put all of us at risk.

So, on September 20, three days before the UN Emergency Climate Summit, school students are inviting everyone to join them for the biggest ever global #ClimateStrike. There are more than 100 events planned around Australia (check here to find your closest event).

Members of the Mt Hotham community will be supporting the strike (check here for details).

If you can’t join the strike, why not post your support from wherever you are.

Outdoor adventure relies on healthy natural environments. Whether you walk, climb, ride, paddle, ski, trail run, snowboard – or anything else – the environment you love is at risk from climate change.

And if you work in the outdoor industry, your livelihood is at risk from out of control climate change. For instance, the Australian ski industry alone generates more than $1.8 billion a year and employs more than 18,000 people. Yet under current greenhouse scenarios, climate change could cut Australia’s ski season by more than two months.

It’s easy to support the strike without showing up >

  • Take or post a photo of you in a favourite place.
  • Post on whatever platform you prefer, using #climatestrike and #PlacesWorthProtecting and say that you support the strike and want governments to act on climate change. Tag in the PM: @ScottMorrisonMP

And why not sign our petition to the PM while you’re at it?

Protect Our Winters is mobilising the outdoor community to take action on climate change. You can find out more and sign up for their newsletter here.

Other ideas on taking action are available here.

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Below: The Hotham community is supporting #ClimateStrike. Images: Karl Gray

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Hotham strike poster

Image below: Kelly van den Berg

Kelly

Image below: Climate strike in Jindabyne. Photo: Shawn Marlene Joynt-Davies

Jindabyne

Image below: Bright, NE VIC. Photo from Sustainable Upper Ovens.

Bright

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Image below: Josh Fletcher, Protect Our Winters Australia. Mt Buller.

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Image below: Bright Brewery.

‘CLIMATE ACTION // We’re made for the mountains – we live, play, and brew here. Climate change is already impacting our mountain home and the future threats to the places we love are terrifying. Massive kudos to the students of Bright P-12 College for organising today’s local #climatestrike Our mountains are definitely #placesworthprotecting

Bright brewery

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marncat

Look at this beauty. It’s seriously #worthprotecting Change needs to happen. #placesworthprotecting #climatestrike

Marncat

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hannahmajigy

#placesworthprotecting . Supporting the #climatestrike because #weallneedwinter . @scottmorrisonmp we need climate action to protect these places

Hannah
Image below: Brett Webb.
Brett Webb

wildernesssports

The @globalclimatestrike is happening TOMORROW (Friday 20th) There are over 100 events across Australia happening but if you can’t be there, why not post a photo of your favourite place. Even better, one of yourself in your favourite place. Tag yourself in to #ClimateStrike. Add your voice.

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snowsafetyaustralia

Mining was a big part of my earlier life. Paid for my way of life for a long time. Whether its coal, iron ore or limestone, these industries are still needed but there are now options to reduce our carbon footprint. I now work in renewables for a large wind farm generating zero emissions and with no need to fuel the turbines with anything other than free wind it’s a win – win scenario for the generation market.
Dont let the government tell you it’s fake news.
#protectourwintersaus

Adam W

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brodyleven

Let’s go absolutely huge tomorrow. globalclimatestrike.net for a march near you
pics by @jamesqmartin

Brody

Image below: Mountain Kitchen, Dinner Plain.

Students from the Alpine School heading to the climate event.

Mtn Kitchen

handmade.2483

Let’s protect all of are favourite places#climatestrike #placesworthprotecting

handmade

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patagoniaaus

Todays #climatestrike in Sydney was incredible. We’re inspired by the next generation that lead the march.
Our leaders can’t ignore their push for action.
There’s no room in government for climate deniers.
#answerwithaction 📷 @jarrahlynch

Patagoniastrike

Image below: From Respect The Mountain (Hobart).

Protecting our winters. The people’s mountain – dogs are welcome too!
Thankyou to all the climate action strikers who were out there in force yesterday.

Image Credit: Gary Tew, kunanyi/Mt Wellington 2018.

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A number of our stores will be closing today to support Global Climate Marches across Australia and New Zealand.

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“I support action on climate change not just because I want to protect the beautiful places in which I play, but because it is basic common sense to care for the one planet we have. Climbing and Paragliding, my two favorite sports owe many of their evolutions to advancements in efficiency and technology – the same innovations that are helping with the climate crisis. I’m proud to be on The North Face Team that shares these values and is making meaningful action to reduce their impact and inspire others to do the same.” Words by @cedarwright

Image below: Paddy Pallin

Paddy Pallin is proud to support the Global Climate Strike.
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Join us, we are striking for the future of our planet!⠀⠀⠀

Paddy Pallin

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