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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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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”

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”

Environmental week at Thredbo

Environmental week is an annual event that happens at Thredbo resort in NSW which is ‘dedicated towards driving awareness to our guests, community and beyond about all of our environmental initiatives in place and what we can all be doing as a community to protect winter and Thredbo’.

It will happen from July 22 – 28, and features talks and presentations, a hike to Mt Kosciuszko, and a fund raiser for tree planting.

Continue reading “Environmental week at Thredbo”

Winter is back! Be careful out there.

Woo hoo! Winter is back! Finally, good conditions in the backcountry. But with heavy snowfalls that have accumulated on almost non existent base, and high winds moving snow around onto the leeward side of slopes, take care out there.

Mountain Sports Collective (MSC) reports that ‘the rate of accumulation, particularly on aspects lee to the north west is a problem. A considerable wind slab avalanche hazard exists as observed at both Falls Creek and Mt Hotham resorts and believed to be widespread particularly in the alpine (above 1650m)’.

These conditions exist across the Alps.

Check here for the MSC Backcountry conditions bulletins before heading out.

MSC says: ‘Conservative terrain choices are advised for travelers in the backcountry for the foreseeable future’.

 

Thredbo is powered by Renewable Energy

Climate change poses an existential threat to winter as we know it. It  is already having a negative impact on Australia’s mountain ranges (for instance, snow pack has been in decline since the late 1950s). It will also impact on the businesses that rely on good winter snow. At present the Australian snow industry 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. If we don’t start to slow down climate change, it means the end of skiing as we currently know it.

There are three response which are required to this threat if ski resorts want to have a hope of long term viability: they need to act to mitigate (or reduce) their greenhouse gas emissions). They need to adapt to the changes that are already locked in (for instance through investing in snow making equipment or highlighting their ‘green season’ activities). And hopefully they will also use their business and political power by advocating for all levels of government to take meaningful action on climate change.

In what is being described as ‘an Australian snow industry first’ (1), Thredbo resort in NSW has announced that it has signed a deal that will ensure that ‘all its major resort operations are now powered by renewable energy’ provided by Red Energy.

Continue reading “Thredbo is powered by Renewable Energy”

This is what climate change looks like

Yes, Australia does have erratic winters.

Yes, the forecast was suggesting that the season would start late and be mediocre to average.

And yes, we just had two awesome winters, so we would have been very lucky to have three in a row.

But the first month of winter 2019 has been the sort of winter you would expect under climate change scenarios.

Continue reading “This is what climate change looks like”

Victoria’s best chance to lead on climate action

Climate change poses an existential threat to the mountains and winter environment that we love and rely on. In Australia, winter snow is already in decline, and has been since 1957.

And climate scientists keep warning us that we are running out of time to cut greenhouse emissions and head off future climate impacts. With the Coalition being re-elected, Australia now has no leadership on climate change (and our carbon emissions continue to soar), so we need everyone to put their shoulder to the wheel.

With the failure of the federal government to act, there is a huge need for the states to continue their work on energy policy. In the ACT, the Government has legislated a target of sourcing 100% renewable electricity by 2020. States around the world, from California to Colorado to New York are also showing leadership and setting deep emission reduction targets and high renewable energy targets.

And now we have a fantastic opportunity to see Victoria take the step towards transforming its energy system and economy. We have just four weeks to send in submissions to the Victorian government on the state’s first interim Emissions Reduction Targets. The state government must announce targets for 2025 and 2030 by March next year. Targets which are based on climate science, rather than what is deemed ‘politically expedient’, will drive down emissions and start the transition from coal to renewables.

Continue reading “Victoria’s best chance to lead on climate action”

POW info night at Hotham

Sunday September 8.

The Snow Bird, Hotham Central, 6.30 – 9pm.

Protect Our Winters (POW) is mobilising the outdoor sports community against climate change. It was founded by the legendary snowboarder Jeremy Jones and is active across North America and Europe. POW is now taking off in Australia.

Come along to this session to hear what’s happening, how you can support POW, and how to get involved. All welcome.

Continue reading “POW info night at Hotham”

Climb8: 700 kms across the Alps on snowshoes

Climb8 will be a long distance snowshoe expedition planned for the 2020 winter.
It aims to cross 36 summits, visit 8 ski resorts and carry out climate change research along the way.

Continue reading “Climb8: 700 kms across the Alps on snowshoes”

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