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Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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winter

‘Stopping Climate Change Is Hopeless. Let’s Do It.’

Auden Schendler is well known to many skiers and riders as being a key figure in snow industry efforts to move towards sustainability. He is the Vice President of Sustainability at the Aspen Snowmass resort in Colorado.

Just before the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C report was released, Auden co-authored an opinion piece in the New York Times with Andrew P. Jones. Given Auden’s pivotal role in the snow community, I thought it was worth sharing some excerts from it here which underscore the political challenge we face if we are serious about resolving the ‘climate problem’. The full article is available here.

Continue reading “‘Stopping Climate Change Is Hopeless. Let’s Do It.’”

It’s almost New Year

Last weekend at Mt Hotham I was chatting with a friend about the end of the season. She said she was starting to grieve for the end of another year. I was feeling exactly the same. I feel most alive in the alpine, especially the alpine when it’s snow covered, and for me, the spring melt marks the end of the year.

Continue reading “It’s almost New Year”

Protecting our playground means action on climate

We’ve on the tail end of an awesome winter. But the fact is that climate change poses an existential threat to the winters we love.

Yet again, climate scientists have warned that we are running out of time to cut greenhouse emissions. Yet the federal government has dropped the ball on climate action (and our carbon emissions continue to soar), so we need everyone to put their shoulder to the wheel and remind them that the community wants to see meaningful action on climate change. Please send a message to the PM, Scott Morrison, that our winter landscapes are at threat, and that we expect his government to act.

The outdoor community and the outdoor industry have enormous political power. But only if we choose to flex our muscles.

Here’s two really simple ways you can get climate change on the radar of the PM:

Continue reading “Protecting our playground means action on climate”

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The winter that keeps giving …

With many areas now pushing beyond 200 cm of snowpack (and Mt Buller calling it the best snow since 2004), the rest of August and early September is looking spectacular. Although I’m hearing a few nay sayers suggesting that we have seen the best of winter 2018, the famed Grasshopper is a little more upbeat: ‘We are now midway through the southern hemisphere season with the best part still to come.

However, The Grasshopper does also suggest that it will taper off after the next band of fronts: ‘Both climate drivers and models aren’t working in our favour for epic snowfalls during the second half of the season. However, snowfalls over the next week or two will provide ample fresh powder’.

But there is little doubt that winter 2018 has been amazing, especially on top of 2017 – which had been billed as ‘the best since 2000’.

Hopefully we will still be wandering around in the backcountry, finding turns, long after the resorts have closed.

In the meantime, here’s some backcountry style events you may want to get along to.

Incoming (again)

The snow looks great for the next few days. Lower avalanche risk (remember to check the Mountain Sports Collective website before heading out) and a good freshen up is expected, so the weekend should be awesome.

The Mountainwatch 7 day forecast is for 54 cm at Perisher, 46cm at Hotham and 45 cm at Mt Stirling. Yes, forecasts at 7 days are very unreliable and the expected snowfall tends to trail off as you get closer to the actual day. But it does look healthy. Stay safe and enjoy.

Incoming

What a great start to winter 2018! Those good early falls in May disappeared, but then we got the best snow pack for June in 17 years! And now we have another big system bearing down on us.

As always, forecasts vary, and this far out, they may be more enthusiastic than the reality we will see over the weekend. Let’s hope this system does deliver the goods.

Here’s a quick check at what some of the key snow websites are saying.

If you’re heading out after the storm, be aware that there may be some avalanche risk as the fresh settles on a sun affected layer. Check the Mountain Sports Collective backcountry advisory before you get on the trail.

This one is from MountainWatch.

This is from Snow watch.

This one comes from Jane Bunn:

Big snow system, mainly Saturday, snow up high from Friday. 

A high is moving to the east and cold fronts are approaching. This will make it windy.

We stay dry through to the end of Wednesday, but one of these fronts may produce rain on Thursday (up to 5mm). It is too warm for snow.

A front breaks through on Friday. It starts warm with rain for all resorts, but there is enough cold air for it to snow to 1600 metres at times. Up to 25 mm of precipitation – with 5 to 20 cm of that falling as snow up high.

A stronger front pushes through on Saturday, and this is all cold. Snow falls down to 900 metres with 15 to 30 cm of snow.

So, this brings 20 to 50 cm of snow all up. 

The chance of snow showers on Sunday, the slight chance of snow showers early next week, until the high moves back in.

 

Here it comes

After a fairly ordinary opening weekend, are we finally getting to the real part of winter?

It seems to depend who you talk to but the general answer is YES.

These are the seven day forecasts for Australia from MountainWatch.

This is the one from SnowWatch. Obviously, longer term models become less reliable, with a greater chance of the cold front being shunted off by a blocking High system or weakening, etc. We’ve all had our hearts broken many times by seeing a 15 day forecast that looks mind blowing slowly dissolve into drizzle and a bit of cloud, so do ‘adjust your set’ to prepare yourself for disappointment. But the short term forecast looks great.

The Jane Bunn forecast (via ski.com.au) looks pretty spectacular.

A series of cold fronts is passing through, driven by a complex area of low pressure that slowly moves past, just south of Australia.  

The heavier snow coincides with the colder air. Its still a little warm today (Wednesday) and Thursday, then we are proper cold from Friday. Snow down to 900 metres on Friday and Saturday, lowering to 600 metres for Saturday night and early Sunday.

Northern resorts see the most from this system as the airflow is northwesterly for much of the time. Baw Baw picks up what is left on Monday into Tuesday. 

The high moves in on Tuesday, bringing a return to sunshine.

We’re looking at 40 to 95 cm of snow for northern resorts.

Lets hope this is correct!

Grasshopper says the 2018 snow season will be ‘Not Bad’

The famed Grasshopper has released their first assessment of what the 2018 season may be like. Obviously its early in the year so hard to make definite predictions, but this first one is fairly hopeful.

It is definitely worth a read but the take home message is that:

‘At this early stage, I estimate that we will have a fairly good start to the season, then a slowish late winter. I’m leaving the door open for a spring dump, possibly even a rerun of the ‘Blizzard of Oz’ but that might be going too far. Maximum snow depths should lie within a range of 180-220 cm when comparing to a long-term average of 195 cm at Spencer’s Creek. The potential for artificial snow making may be hampered during the preseason due to warm and wet conditions, but later in the season snow machines will get their chance to shine.’

The next forecast will be released in early May.

 

#ClimateWhiteout: climate change and the Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics are underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Climate and winter sports advocacy groups have been using social media to highlight the expected impacts of global warming on future Winter Olympic sites.

This is not a new story, but research that shows that climate change is likely to make nine former Winter Olympics sites too warm to host the Games again has been circulating using the hashtag #ClimateWhiteout.

Continue reading “#ClimateWhiteout: climate change and the Winter Olympics”

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