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ALBANY – The 2022 Beijing Olympics, which started last week, was the first Winter Olympics to use virtually 100% artificial snow, deploying more than 100 snow generators and 300 snow cannons to cover the slopes of ski.

It’s a new reality for Olympics and World Cup organizers who rely more on snowmaking equipment, despite athletes’ concerns about safety, in part because of the impacts of global warming on snowmaking equipment. natural snowfall.

Mathias Vuille, a professor at the University of Albany in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, has studied climate change and retreating glaciers in the tropics for more than 30 years.

Among his many observations, Vuille found that the Quelccaya Ice Cap in Peru, one of the largest tropical ice caps in the world, could reach a state of irreversible retreat by the mid-2050s. research on the Chacaltaya Glacier in Bolivia, once home to the highest ski resort in the world, which disappeared completely in 2009.

Vuille points out that these observations are visual representations of climate change and warns that rising temperatures could threaten the future Winter Olympics and the global ski industry.

“As an avid skier and someone who works on climate change and glaciers, this is a topic very close to my heart,” he said. “The shrinking of glaciers and the reduction in snowfall rates around the world are good visual reminders of the impact of global warming on our environment. People can see the change right in front of them.

“Closer to home, studies have examined the economic viability of ski resorts in the northeastern United States under different climate change scenarios. High elevation locations in the Adirondacks, Green Mountains, and White Mountains fare the best, while most low elevation locations will have shorter seasons or disappear altogether in most scenarios.

Vuille has dedicated his career to studying the impacts of climate change in tropical mountain environments, such as the Andes, which depend on melting glaciers as a water resource. He is currently leading a $5 million National Science Foundation research project to better understand how and why Earth’s climate has varied naturally over the past 1,000 years.

He is a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers on global climate change.


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