The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Escape -

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

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