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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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climate change

Whistler Blackomb asks what the future holds for skiing

Over the past year, more than 30 North American ski resorts have set targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions via voluntary programs.

Whistler Blackcomb, in British Columbia, which is consistently rated as North America’s #1 resort has also developed some interesting sustainability measures.

As part of the resorts 50th celebrations, it commissioned an interesting project which considered the question ‘what does the future hold for us in the next 50 years?’.

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The Mountain Legacy Project

The Mountain Legacy Project, or MLP, is “an interdisciplinary collaboration focused on exploring change in Canada’s mountain environments. Utilizing over 140,000 images taken by land surveyors from 1861 – 1953, MLP researchers seek to re-photograph these images as accurately as possible and make the resulting image pairs available for further investigation”.

It compares the original landscape shown in the early photos with ones taken in the same place over the past few years. It allows you look at the changes in many thousands of places – mountains, valleys and so on – over time. And the results are incredible. While it documents the development of towns, roads, changes in land management, the impact of logging operations and wildfire, etc, the most striking aspect is the change to snowpack and ice fields during this time.

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Atone for your carma by supporting mountain critter cause

Winter may be long over, but the snow is still there across the higher ranges of the Australian alps. It was a winter that went through so many boom and bust cycles and if all that rain had been snow, we’d be skiing until January. Long after the resorts have closed there is still decent and rideable cover in many places, but we are getting towards the end of season 2016.

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Nat Segal. Greenland and the future of skiing

In March of 2014 six women set sail from Ísafjörður, Iceland with the intention of sailing across the Denmark Straight and up the south-west coast of Greenland. They hoped to explore the remote coastline, pioneer new ski descents, and collect scientific data in some of the most incredible wilderness on earth.

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An inquiry into the Tasmanian fires?

In a good development on the Tasmanian fires, the Senate has formally called on the Federal Government to establish an independent inquiry into the recent fires in Tasmania’s World Heritage Area.

A motion moved by Greens Senator Nick McKim and Labor Senator Lisa Singh passed the Senate on Monday afternoon.

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Ski resorts and climate change

As climate change bears down on us, winters become ever more erratic. This impacts on the economic viability of ski resorts and the jobs of people who rely on them.  In their quest to remain commercially viable, most ski resorts are adopting the double edged strategy of claiming a space in the ‘green season’ tourism market while also investing in snow making technology. A small number are also showing leadership in terms of grappling with the actual problem of climate change. Sadly, no Australian resorts are in this category.

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Helping trees flee climate change

This article from the Canadian based magazine called The Walrus got me thinking. We know that climate science predicts that some species will migrate ‘uphill’ to try and find the climatic conditions they can flourish in as the temperature warms. This could see some sub alpine and alpine species becoming extinct as they face stiff competition from new species moving into their traditional range and with Australia only having mountains of low elevation, some species could simply be pushed off the top of the ranges.

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I Am Pro Snow

Like Protect Our Winters, I Am Pro Snow is seeking to mobilise people in the snow sports community to be active in reducing climate change. It is an initiative of the Climate Reality Project. They have been represented at the recent climate change negotiations in Paris, and have a range of ‘snow ambassadors’ who advocate for action in various forums.

It does seem a bit fluffy – focusing on awareness raising rather than hard asks – and light on in terms of providing suggestions about tangible actions that people can take. But at this point we need all hands on deck when it comes to finding solutions to the merging climate crisis, so all power to them.

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Appreciating the Home Range

As a keen skier and walker I love to visit some of the higher ranges around the world. But having done lots of overseas trips I figure I’ve consumed well beyond a fair share of carbon, and tend to stick close to home for my adventures nowadays.

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