North Face, K2 Sports and 90 other brands pen letter on climate change

A surreal sight met skiers and snowboarders in the Sierra Nevada ski resorts for much of last winter: No snow.

Indeed, in a place where a decade earlier they’d routinely drive through 10-feet high drifts to get to ski places, they instead were met with barren brown hills dotted with little bits of white.

Sure, the big resorts manufactured snow from machines so visitors could strap on skis and go down narrow paths. But there was none of the real stuff most of the winter.

Snowfall in the Sierras had been declining for years as the epic California drought took its toll year after year.

But something about zero snowfall during January, February and March in a place known for regular blizzards and piles of white brought home a stark and haunting worry: Climate change is for real.

The drought in the Western U.S. is caused by a lot of things — mostly a persistent high pressure ridge sitting over the Pacific coast and northern Pacific states that is blocking other atmospheric patterns from passing through. But scientists publishing in the Geophysical Research Letters have determined that absence of precipitation when joined with much warmer than normal temperatures exacerbated the drought, making it the most extreme in 1,200 years.

The warming climate exacerbated the drought by 8 to 27 percent between 2012 and 2014.

As dry ground persisted in the Sierras, the region's economy suffered. Smaller ski resorts shuttered; larger ones made snow from machines but kept many trails closed. Thousands of jobs were lost — or never materialized for the winter. Shops and restaurants went out of business.

And that was only one region of the country. The drought also hurt Pacific Northwest and Colorado skiing. In the Northeast, meanwhile, temperatures were so off-the-charts cold last winter that ski resorts there, too, suffered. Few people want to ski in 30-below weather.

Snow and Paris 

You could say the winter sports industry has had enough already.
This week, 92 brand companies — from the K2 Sports and Rossignol to North Face, Clif Bar and Burton — along with 53 resorts, 50 professional athletes and 13 snow sports trade groups signed a letter they intend to deliver to President Barack Obama about the.... continue reading on greenbiz.com....


By Barbara Grady Senior Writer GreenBiz Group

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