Snowfalls down by 40 per cent over 50 years
August 17, 2009
AUSTRALIAN skiers may have to look overseas in search of suitable snowfalls, thanks to global warming.
The average snow cover at Australia’s highest altitude snow course, Spencer’s Creek in the Snowy Mountains, has declined by 30 per cent to 40 per cent in the last 50 years, a conference in Brisbane will be told today.
The cost of man-made snow is also likely to increase as more water and electricity are required.
Unlike skiers, specialised plants that have learnt to survive in the Australian highlands don’t have the option of seeking out higher ground and may face extinction, Associate Professor Catherine Pickering of Griffith University said.
“Some of these plants are found only on the lee side of mountain ridges, where snow lies late into the summer months, long after snow in the surrounding landscape has melted,” Prof Pickering said.
“We are about to lose two of our rarest plant communities, right before our eyes.”
“We need to co-ordinate the ad hoc research that is happening on our limited snow country.”
Prof Pickering will attend the The 10th International Congress of Ecology, INTECOL conference in Brisbane this week.
INTECOL is hosted by the Ecological Society of Australia and the New Zealand Ecological Society.
This is the first time the congress is being held in the southern hemisphere.