Those rejoicing in the beauty of fascinating mountain range of Swiss Alps are in for bad news. A huge percentage of the beautiful mountain's snow cover will be lost by 2100.

This dry land scenario was revealed in a study which said falling snow cover will be accentuated by the reduced span of the ski seasons.

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, EPFL and Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research who conducted the study, projected Alps snow coverage scenario on the basis of precipitation conditions and temperature variations.

The study has been published in The Cryosphere journal.

Disappointing December

For skiers, a disappointing December just passed when the Swiss Alps had the driest snowfall in over 150 years. Since temperature and rainfall are factors that affect snow fall, global warming alone has not been analyzed as an influence on snow cover.

The side effects of low snow formation include the duration of Alpine winter season becoming a casualty as adequate natural snow to facilitate winter sports will not be available. The start of ski season will also be pushed back by weeks or even months.

"The Alpine snow cover will recede anyway, but our future emissions control by how much," noted lead-author Christoph Marty, a scientist with the SLF.

Simulated Models

The simulated projections by the researchers showed snowfall patterns in the mountains with a skewed distribution of snow at different elevations and time frames. Indications were that instead of snow fall, more winter rains will be coming.

Sebastian Schlögl, a researcher at SLF said meteorological data and climate change scenarios were applied in modeling the future snow cover at the twin Alpine catchments.

According to the study, snow cover loss will be drastic at elevations above 3,000 meters and may induce big commercial loss as 25 percent of all Alps ski resorts are below this threshold.

"Since many Alpine villages are heavily dependent on winter tourism, the economy and society of regions with such tourism centers will suffer," added Schlögl.

The scientists, however, noted that the snow cover loss can be minimized from 70 to 30 percent if global warming is managed below 2°C.

The study reminded that if carbon emissions continue unabated, the formation of snow cover will be confined to heights above 2,500 meters in the coming decades.

Air Service For Winter Sports

Meanwhile, a new airline dedicated to the winter snow sports has been announced for Switzerland.

The airliner PowdAir will start operations in December with direct flights from UK airports and other places.

For skiers, this will be a boon as it cuts travel times to Swiss resorts. The airline will operate a 109-seat Fokker 100 aircraft for five days a week, from Thursday to Monday.

"We are in talks with local tour operators and resorts to putting in place infrastructure for skiers' onward travel from Sion," said Rob Stewart, a spokesman for PowdAir. He said skiers who get to Sion will have an efficient way to reach resorts without depending on taxis.

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