January 15, 2018

Winter Olympics Cities Are Warming Up

The experience of Vancouver hosting the Winter Olympics in 2010 pointed to an issue~what do you do when it’s the Winter Olympics and there is no snow? City of Vancouver staff were seconded to work the games and were given City jackets (apparently in the wrong colour) snow pants, and heavy gloves. And it was a very very warm Olympics, with snow having to  be brought in to the melting ski venues, and not many were wearing those snow pants.
The New York Times has just reported that the U.S. government is still redacting the “climate change” word, replacing it with the much more generic reference of “sustainability”.  And in reviewing fourteen  former Winter Olympic sites, Canadian scientists have concluded that nine of these former venues will not be cold enough to host a winter games by mid-century. This link takes you to a handy map showing the percentage chance these locations will have a below freezing temperature in Februarys to come.
A research team from the University of Waterloo updated research from 2014 to include the Pyeongchang Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.  “According to Dr. Scott’s research, using emissions projections in which global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise through mid century and global temperatures increase by 4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050, nine of the host locations will be too hot to handle the Games. But that temperature increase won’t be felt equally. Chamonix, France, the site of the first Winter Games, will have winter temperatures 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by mid century.”
You can also make snow, but you need cold air to do that. Vancouver used 1,000 straw bales and mixed a pudding of artificial snow and the real stuff hauled from higher elevations for their  olympic slopes. And it’s not just future Olympic sites that will be hampered~”In the United States, some ski locations are forecast to see seasons 50 percent shorter by 2050 and 80 percent shorter by 2090.”  And future winter Olympic locales may be limited to a few cities  who continually rehost the games because of their colder climate.
So what happens to winter sports if there is no available snow, or outdoor hockey rinks for neophytes and newbies to train on? Will  those future athletes be able to find cold enough climates to even try out a winter sport? As the cold climate Olympics team research leader admits “It’s an interesting question that nobody really knows the answer to.”



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