Climate change risk assessment for ski areas in China

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The successful bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics has provided a strong impetus for the development of China's ski industry. Ski areas have sprung up throughout the country, even in the low latitudes south of 30°N. However, ski tourism is extremely susceptible to weather and climate conditions. In the context of global warming, it has become important to assess the climate reliability of ski areas. Therefore, this study demonstrates a novel approach to assessing the ski tourism sector's climate risks, which can be easily applied in other markets catering to the same industry. Using the random forest regression model based on climate projections and survey data, we projected the ski season start dates, end dates and season lengths of 694 existing ski areas in China under three emission scenarios (RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). Climate projections, including air temperature, snowfall, rainfall, wind speed and air humidity, were the ensemble means from five climate models. Results indicate that ski areas in China may have later start dates, earlier end dates and shorter ski seasons before 2099. By the 2090s, under RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5, 20% (139), 28% (195) and 35% (245) of ski areas are projected to be at high climate risk (ski season less than 60 d), respectively, while 28% (197), 23% (157) and 8% (56) of ski areas are at low climate risk (ski season with at least 100 d), respectively. The climate risks are ranked from the highest to lowest in East, Central, Southwest, North, Northwest and Northeast China. Furthermore, the ski tourism sector in the latitudes south of 40°N is exposed to much higher climate risks than in areas north of 40°N. Therefore, climatic reliability should be carefully considered before establishing or expanding ski areas to avoid unnecessary resource waste and ecological damage, as well as to promote sustainable development in mountain areas.




Deng, J., Che, T., Hu, Y. X., Yue, S. N., Pan, J. H., & Dai, L. Y. (2023). Climate change risk assessment for ski areas in China. Advances in Climate Change Research, 14(2), 300–312.

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