According to a report released Wednesday by the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures, climate change is already impacting Colorado's $2 billion ski industry and may shorten the season by as much as 30 days if current trends continue.
Colorful Colorado’s climate has been heating up for 50 years, especially in the mountains, the NCSL's report says. Additionally, temps are climbing faster than national averages, and winter mountain temperatures could rise by another 5 to 6 degrees over the next 100 years. Not good news for November and May turns.
While precipitation is increasing in the mountains, less of it is coming as snow, leading to decreased snowpack and spring thaw in the Rocky Mountains, the report says.
Several Colorado ski execs expressed concern about the impact of climate change on their business. Some have taken steps to reduce the environmental impact of their operations, from proposing LEED-certified resort construction to buying renewable-energy credits.
About 80 percent of America's ski resorts now make their own snow, the National Ski Areas Association estimates, and this number is expected to rise as water levels decline.
Other potential climate-change impacts cited in the report:
• Colorado forests could face a greater threat from pests, diseases and fires if temperatures keep rising.
• Trout would suffer if streams and lakes get warmer.
• Ground-level ozone could increase in Denver if summer temperatures keep rising, leading to more asthma attacks and other respiratory disorders.
To download the report on Colorado, visit http://www.ncsl.org/print/environ/ClimatechangeCO.pdf. For an overview of the nationwide findings, visit http://www.ncsl.org/print/environ/ClimatechangeOver.pdf.