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Journal cover: International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Online from: 1981

Subject Area: Industry and Public Sector Management

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Warming winters and New Hampshire’s lost ski areas: an integrated case study


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Title:Warming winters and New Hampshire’s lost ski areas: an integrated case study
Author(s):Lawrence C. Hamilton, (Department of Sociology, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824), David E. Rohall, (Department of Sociology, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455), Benjamin C. Brown, (Department of Sociology, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824), Gregg F. Hayward, (Whittemore School of Business and Economics, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824), Barry D. Keim, (Southern Regional Climate Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803)
Citation:Lawrence C. Hamilton, David E. Rohall, Benjamin C. Brown, Gregg F. Hayward, Barry D. Keim, (2003) "Warming winters and New Hampshire’s lost ski areas: an integrated case study", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 23 Iss: 10, pp.52 - 73
Keywords:Global warming, Snow, Sports, USA
Article type:Case study
DOI:10.1108/01443330310790309 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:MCB UP Ltd
Abstract:New Hampshire’s mountains and winter climate support a ski industry that contributes substantially to the state economy. Through more than 70 years of history, this industry has adapted and changed with its host society. The climate itself has changed during this period too, in ways that influenced the ski industry’s development. During the 20th century, New Hampshire’s mean winter temperature warmed about 2.1° C (3.8° F). Much of that change occurred since 1970. The mult-decadal variations in New Hampshire winters follow global temperature trends. Snowfall exhibits a downward trend, strongest in southern New Hampshire, and also correlates with the North Atlantic Oscillation. Many small ski areas opened during the early years while winters were cold and snowy. As winters warmed, areas in southern or lowelevation locations faced a critical disadvantage. Under pressure from both climate and competition, the number of small ski areas leveled off and then fell steeply after 1970. The number of larger, chairliftoperating ski areas began falling too after 1980. Aprolonged warming period increased the importance of geographic advantages, and also of capital investment in snowmaking, grooming and economic diversification. The consolidation trend continues today. Most of the surviving ski areas are located in the northern mountains. Elsewhere around the state, one can find the remains of “lost” ski areas in places that now rarely have snow suitable for downhill skiing. This case study demonstrates a general approach for conducting integrated empirical research on the human dimensions of climate change.



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