SHRINKING AUSSIE SNOW SEASON
THE snow season is shrinking and this year is no exception, says a leading Australian climatologist. Dr David Jones, manager of climate monitoring and prediction at the Bureau of Meteorology ( BOM), says this winter we can expect a lower than average ski season.
Australia has experienced record hot temperatures for the past nine months, and Dr Jones says there’s a high probability these above- average temperatures will continue during winter.
For the country’s southeast ( Tasmania, Victoria and southern NSW) the bureau is also expecting, at least to the middle of winter, below average rainfall. That means warmer and dryer weather.
“Below- average rainfall usually means below- average snowfall,” he says. “The outlook for snow, based on these two pieces of information, wouldn’t look to be very good. We have seen a marked decline in snow cover in Australia over the past 40 to 50 years.”
In the past 50 years across Australia there has been a 1 to 2C increase in temperatures.
It might not sound like much but Dr Jones puts it like this: “It’s the equivalent of moving places about 200km closer to the equator. That basically means the winter seasons are shrinking from both the spring and autumn sides of the season, typically by a couple of weeks.”
It’s something regular skiers and snowboarders may have noticed, as well as resorts, which have been increasing snowmaking capabilities for years.
In time for this southern ski season, Perisher in NSW has spent $ 1.65 million in automated snowmaking. That takes the resort’s investment in snowmaking technology to $ 22 million over the past seven years. Thredbo ( NSW) has also extended its snowmaking for 2013, while Mt Buller in Victoria has spent $ 400,000 on the technology. But all of this doesn’t mean we won’t see a decent snowfall in the heart of winter.
For those who remain sceptical, Dr Jones says: “The fact that Australia’s getting hotter, that our oceans are getting hotter, that our snow seasons are shrinking, that we’re getting less rainfall, particularly during autumn, it’s absolutely clear in the data. There is no conceivable way that this ( global warming) isn’t
happening. It is.”
For more on Australian snow levels go to www. snowyhydro. com. au, and for weather and temperatures visit www. bom. gov. au