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L9 Impact Of Climate Change On Alps
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L9 Impact Of Climate Change On Alps

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  • 1. What is the impact of climate change on Alpine communities? Glacial retreat can pose a threat to the economies of areas relying on tourism and result in damage to fragile environments. NT page 138-140
  • 2. Triftgletscher in Switzerland until recently filled the entire basin seen here. Thinning of the tongue during the 1990s accelerated and as of 2001 a lake started to form in front of it. Rapid break-up of the snout is now underway Source
  • 3. Lesson objectives
    • To recognise the impact of retreat and unreliability of snowfall in some resorts.
    • To describe the economic, social and environmental impact as a consequence of glacial retreat
    • To understand the concept of fragile environments.
    • Reference NT page 138 - 139
  • 4. Evidence for recent climate change
    • Glacial retreat means ice will no longer be available for winter sports e.g. trekking and ice climbing – so the area will attract fewer tourists
    • Unreliable snowfall means that there might not be enough snow for winter sports
    • Fewer tourists will impact upon hotels, restaurants, shops and other businesses – increased unemployment
    • Europe’s glaciers are thought to have lost around a quarter of their mass in the last 8 years.
    • The UN estimates that in 30 years’ time the snowline will have risen by 300m and that up to half of all resorts in Europe will be forced to close by 2050
  • 5. Responses in lower-level resorts
    • Lower level resorts have responded to cope with the problem:
    • Tourists have been transported by bus to higher level resorts for skiing
    • Artificial snow is cannoned onto the lopes
    • In low-level parts of Austria and Italy up to 40% or resorts have to make their own snow
    • Expensive and has serious effect on vegetation
    • Resorts have had to reinvent themselves – promoting other activities
    • Plans to build new ski lifts to link resorts but this has impact on the environment
  • 6.  
  • 7. Abondance France
    • Typical Alpine ski resort in Haute Savoie region of france
    • Depends on income from winter skiers
    • 15 years of unreliable snow
    • 2007 ski lifts closed
    • Local council now considering the future – develop other forms of winter snow – ski touring, snow shoeing, snow mobiling that are less dependent on deep snow
    • Boost summer tourism – hiking, water sports, mountain biking
  • 8. New Developments
    • High Alps
    • With low level resorts in decline there is pressure to develop high Alps – fragile environments:
    • Road construction
    • Building of ski lifts, resorts, hotels – damage natural habitats
    • Trees cut down to make way for development – trees stabilise soil on slopes and impede avalanches
    • Overuse of slopes for skiing will damage vegetation, mountain biking can lead to gullies
    • Increased levels of pollution – may reduce attractiveness of area for some types of tourism
  • 9. Other impacts
    • Once a glacier has completely melted the amount of meltwater decreases
    • This affects:
    • Agriculture – irrigation
    • HEP
  • 10.
    • Social impacts
    • Glacial retreat means water supply to settlements may be reduced
    • Disruptions to HEP power supplies
    • Closure of businesses – people may have to move to find work
    • If population declines , local services and recreational facilities will shut down
    • Environmental impacts
    • Glacial retreat is linked to other hazards, flooding, rockslides and avalanches
    • Meltwater contributes to rising sea level
    • Loss of habitats and fish species adapted to live in cold meltwaters
    • Harmful pollutants trapped in ice are released into environment polluting streams and lakes
  • 11. Web references
    • Alpine climate campaign enlists iPhone
    • 'Major melt' for Alpine glaciers
    • Warm-up in the Alps
    • Europe's glaciers in retreat

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