Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Future of the Winter Olympics is Being Threatened by Climate Change

Finding a site for future Winter Olympics will prove challenging in a warming world. Cities like Sochi will likely be out of the question. Even this year Sochi registered temperatures hovering around 60 Fahrenheit and limited snowfall forced the cancellation of two test events last February. Although the Sochi games went forward due to Herculean efforts that included covering 16 million cubic feet of snow with insulated blankets and around the clock snow making, in the near future this may not be enough. According to new research, only six of the previous 19 Winter Olympics sites will be suitable to host the Games by the end of this century.

According to a new analysis from the University of Waterloo, the. average February maximum daytime temperatures at the 19 previous Winter Olympics host cities has risen from 0.4°C in the 1920s to 1950s, to 7.8°C in the 2000s to 2010s. An additional rise in the average global temperature of more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit is possible by 2100.

Even with man made snow, getting a minimum of 30 centimetres of the white stuff will prove difficult by the end of the century as daily highs are expected to soar above zero in most of the former Winter Olympic locations.  Stop gap solutions include enhanced snow making and holding the games at higher elevations, however, the far better option involves minimizing climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The difficulty associated with staging Winter Olympics is yet another reason why we urgently need to curb climate change causing greenhouse gases.

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