Yes, Australia does have erratic winters.
Yes, the forecast was suggesting that the season would start late and be mediocre to average.
And yes, we just had two awesome winters, so we would have been very lucky to have three in a row.
But the first month of winter 2019 has been the sort of winter you would expect under climate change scenarios.
Since Europeans colonised this continent, our winters have got warmer. The snow line has risen up mountainsides. According to research commissioned by the Alpine Resorts Co-ordinating Council and carried out by the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, snow cover in Australia has declined by about 50% since the 1980s, and the alpine regions have experienced a 30% reduction in the number of light snow days. There has been a decrease in annual maximum snow depths of about 20cm per decade.
But that’s just the start. With warming of 4 – 6oC possible in future, we stand on the verge of seeing winter as we know it utterly transformed.
With climate change we will also see a reduction in overall precipitation, but more flood events, and longer and more extreme fire seasons.
While seasons like 2019 aren’t as much fun as a good season for the punters, they also hit the industry where it hurts – the hip pocket. Towies, instructors, bar staff and others in the resorts and Valley towns are getting less work. The Australian ski industry generates more than $1.8 billion a year and employs more than 18,000 people. But as seasons get shorter and the costs of making snow continue to grow, its hard to see a positive future for the industry.
There is time to act
But this is the only time we have
Right now we have a fantastic opportunity to see Victoria take the step towards transforming its energy system and economy. We have just four weeks to send in submissions to the Victorian government on the state’s first interim Emissions Reduction Targets. The state government must announce targets for 2025 and 2030 by March next year. Targets which are based on climate science, rather than what is deemed ‘politically expedient’, will drive down emissions and start the transition from coal to renewables.
Please send a submission in to this process. Submissions close July 22.
Victoria can’t solve the climate crisis on it’s own. But it needs to play it’s part in the global efforts to stop the looming climate crisis. This is our best chance to start the transition in Victoria.
Check here for other ideas on action you can take: The cure for depression is action.
Check here for additional information on the impacts of climate change on mountain regions.