Olympic Snow #Sochi2014

It has become difficult to rely on natural cold and snow even in traditional winter sports venues. This is because of increased temperatures caused by global warming. This may not be the biggest problem caused by climate change, but it is one that has attracted a certain amount of helpful attention. Perhaps the North American visitation of the Arctic Vortex, which has made some people think that climate change is not real, is partly offset by a Winter Olympics with more than its share of problems, including injuries and lost medals, caused by crappy snow conditions.

Also, it is kind of a “First World Problem.” Such problems tend to receive extra attention and the demand for solutions may be more likely addressed. I imagine that the slopes of the better ski resorts are populated by a relatively high proportion of people who assume climate change can’t really affect them (because not much does), and perhaps by a larger percentage of people who feel, incorrectly, to be financially threatened by measures to curb climate change.

Meanwhile, science not only tells us that global warming is real, but it also tells us how to adapt, at least a little. From the American Chemical Association, a video on how they make snow:

Comments

  1. #1 Kevin
    February 18, 2014

    FWIW, the average high temperature in Sochi in February is 57 degrees F. So the lack of snow has more to do with a poor siting choice than global warming.

    Just saying.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    February 18, 2014

    Kevin, there are two Sochis: http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2014/01/30/there-are-two-sochis/

    You are citing the temps for the sub-tropical coastal city. There isn’t an average temperature for the mountain ski resort that I know of. Well, there is an average temperature I’m sure but there is not a climatological record. It has been a ski resort for years, though, with snow and everything.

  3. #3 j a higginbotham
    February 18, 2014

    You mean the ACS – American Chemical Society?

    For one of many sites on snow crystals, see http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/

  4. #4 Eric Lund
    February 19, 2014

    Sochi (the Black Sea resort town) wouldn’t be the first Winter Olympic host city to be unfamiliar with snow: Vancouver, the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympics, also rarely gets snow (although it’s not quite as warm as Sochi). They, too, went into the surrounding mountains (alpine skiing at Whistler, IIRC) for snow events. From what I’ve been hearing from my mother, who lives about 200 km south, Vancouver would have had some worries about snow this year. Cascadia has been getting much less snow than average this winter–it’s not as bad as the Sierras (which include another previous Winter Olympics venue, Squaw Valley), but snowpack in the Cascades and Olympics (she can see the latter from her condo on a clear day, of which she has had more this winter than she typically does) is running well below average.

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