Panel based assessment of snow management operations in French ski resorts

Sondage d'estimation des pratiques de gestion de la neige dans les stations de ski française

Spandre, P. ; François, H. ; George-Marcelpoil, E. ; Morin, S.

Type de document
Article de revue scientifique à comité de lecture
Langue
Anglais
Affiliation de l'auteur
IRSTEA GRENOBLE UR DTGR FRA ; IRSTEA GRENOBLE UR DTGR FRA ; IRSTEA GRENOBLE UR DTGR FRA ; METEO FRANCE CEN UMR CNRM GAME GRENOBLE FRA
Année
2016
Résumé / Abstract
The vulnerability of the ski industry to snow and meteorological conditions accounting for snow management has been addressed regarding past conditions or under climate change scenario in most of the major destinations for skiing activities including the U.S.A and Austria, although not in the French Alps yet. Such investigations require quantitative data on snow management practices in ski resorts. So far the only information available in France was aggregated at the national level and outdated. The present study aims to provide detailed information of relevance for impact studies accounting for snow management including snowmaking and grooming facilities (ratio of equipped ski slopes, snowguns types, water storage capacity) and practices (grooming frequency, snowguns positioning, required snow depth regarding the date) in French ski resorts with respect to their characteristics. We collected information from 55 French ski resorts through a survey we set up in Autumn 2014, covering a large range of ski resorts (geographical situation, size, altitude), consistently with the dispersion of the population of French ski resorts. The participant ski resorts represent about 50% of the French ski resorts total ski lifts infrastructures. This survey confirms that the snow conditions are a major priority for ski resorts operators to provide comfortable skiing conditions, to ski back down to the village or even to connect with neighbouring resorts. The required minimum snow depth is shared by most resorts, decreasing from 60 cm in February to 40 cm in April with a minimum 40 cm to maintain regardless the date. Snowmaking also appears as the major method to mitigate the dependency to natural snow conditions. Most resorts are equipped in 2015 with very similar facilities (about 35% of ski slopes equipped) even though they indicate contrasted prospects. The survey does not outline significant differences in terms of snow management practices with respect to the size or the location of the ski resorts. Using these results together with additional information suggests that the smaller, low to medium altitude resorts show lower adaptive capacity than larger, higher altitude resorts to face the natural variability and projected changes of the climate consistently with international data. This raises the interest for further investigations for the profiling of ski resorts regarding their geographical situation, management mode or target market, with probably significant influences on their willingness to develop snowmaking facilities. Management implications: The present study highlights several points of interest for ski resorts stakeholders
Source
Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, vol. 16, p. 24 - 36

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