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Sensitivity analysis of snow patterns in Swiss ski resorts to shifts in temperature, precipitation and humidity under conditions of climate change

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Published in International Journal of Climatology. 2009, vol. 29, no. 8, p. 1048-1055
Abstract The value of snow as a resource has considerably increased in Swiss mountain regions, in particular in the context of winter tourism. In the perspective of a warming climate, it is thus important to quantify the potential changes in snow amount and duration that could have large repercussions on the economy of ski resorts. Because of the fine spatial variability of snow, the use of a Surface Energy Balance Model (SEBM) is adequate to simulate local snow cover evolution. A perturbation method has been developed to generate plausible future meteorological input data required for SEBM simulations in order to assess the changes in snow cover patterns. Current and future snow depths have also been simulated within the ski areas themselves. The results show a large decrease of the snow depths and duration, even at high elevation in a warmer climate and emphasize the sensitivity of snow to topographical characteristics of the resorts. The most vulnerable areas would be the Western regions of Switzerland or the Eastern Prealps whereas the Central Alps or Valais would be less affected. The study highlights the fact that not only the altitude of a domain but also its exposure, localization inland and slope gradients need to be taken into account when evaluating current and future snow depths. This method enables a precise assessment of the snow pattern over a small area.
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ISE Climat
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UHLMANN-SCHNEITER, Bastienne, GOYETTE, Stéphane, BENISTON, Martin. Sensitivity analysis of snow patterns in Swiss ski resorts to shifts in temperature, precipitation and humidity under conditions of climate change. In: International Journal of Climatology, 2009, vol. 29, n° 8, p. 1048-1055. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:18453

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Deposited on : 2012-02-21

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