The cold breeze of the winter season and the first snowflakes put an end to the countdown to your most anticipated ski vacation. However, snow patterns have changed due to global warming, forcing ski resorts to use artificial means to create snow through snow cannons. Ski resorts often use this machine to create the first layer of snow.
Snow cannons create snow by combining chilled water and compressed air. Compressed air fulfills three functions in the artificial snow making process. First, it “atomizes” the water or divides it into many tiny droplets. Second, throw the water droplets into the air. Lastly, it helps to cool down the water droplets as they fly through the air. During warmer days, they use an agent known as Snowmax, a protein that provides a core to ice crystals, allowing freezing at temperatures around -3 ° C.
Although considered a savior for most ski resorts, these canyons have undesirable effects on the environment.
Since it uses water to create artificial snow, it increases water consumption. According to an article published on Chamonet.com, it is estimated that snowmaking in France uses more water than in a city of 170,000 inhabitants. However, there are now resorts that use treated sewage to create snow instead of fresh water from reservoirs.
Also, it consumes too much energy. It further contributes to the problem of global warming due to the amount of energy production it generates. In addition, these machines contribute to noise pollution. In fact, a single snow cannon creates sound between 60 and 80 decibels, which is equivalent to the noise created by heavy traffic. This noise disturbs wildlife in the mountains.
Also, let’s not forget that these machines also use certain chemicals to produce artificial snow. And when artificial snow melts, chemical residues from the snow can affect vegetation.
In addition, artificial snow is much denser than natural snow, so it melts much later than natural snow, thus increasing the volume of melt water that runs down the mountain, causing natural erosion.
Additionally, chemical additives used in creating artificial snow can get into rivers that supply drinking water to resorts.
The use of treated wastewater also generated alarms. They argued that the chemicals used in the treated water can cause further damage to the environment.
The bottom line is that while snow cannons can help sustain businesses, their damaging effects on our environment cannot be ignored. So how can we ski vacationers take an active role in helping keep the ski industry alive while remaining environmentally responsible? Here are some ways:
- Take steps to reduce energy use. Unplug infrequently used appliances and turn off all lights when you leave the room. While we can’t end the use of snow cannons for now, we can take the necessary actions to eventually end climate change (and render snow cannons useless in the process) in our own way.
- Look for alternatives. When snow is scarce, it’s time to consider other fun activities that don’t require snow. Go water skiing or hiking.