In the last few seasons we have experienced some good winters with lots of deep snow in the mountains. Just a casual question: Does climate change mean more powder days for the Alps?
The climate models actually show that if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, we expect an increase in winter precipitation of around 20 percent in the second half of the century. But this only applies to the end of the century, i.e. for the period 2070 to 2100.
So after all our grandchildren can expect more snow in the mountains again.
For individual powder events in high altitudes maybe, but not overall. This is because the increase in precipitation is accompanied by a progressive rise in temperature - and even at higher altitudes, the increased precipitation cannot compensate for the rise in temperature.
Why is it so difficult to predict how climate change will affect the Alps?
Research does not make exact predictions, but rather climate projections - because we have to take into account a great many uncertainties in the future, for example the development of the population. In addition to these uncertainties, two things play an important role: time frame and parameters. As far as the time frame is concerned, especially in the Alps, natural fluctuations will dominate man-made climate change for the next ten to thirty years - human influence will only dominate temperature changes over periods of thirty years and beyond. And with it also the change in the snow cover. Everything that is temperature-dependent, i.e. heat, evaporation and so on, we can calculate very well, and climate models can handle this very well. But when it comes to parameters such as precipitation or even cloud cover and wind, it gets really difficult - calculations are more complex and the statements are much more uncertain.