Climate Change VS. Utah's Ski Industry By Krista Seljaas

What's the ski industry currently like in Utah?

Many Utahns, as well as tourists, enjoy hitting the slopes at any of the 14 ski resorts in Utah. These 14 resorts contribute significantly to Utah's economy and bring joy to countless tourists. Who doesn't want to experience "The Greatest Snow on Earth"?

Many people enjoy Utah's snow - Utah's ski resorts had over 4.2 million skier visits during the 2009-2010 season. (

According to The State of Utah Outdoor Recreation Vision, the ski industry has grown 67% since 2002 and contributed $1.173 billion to Utah's economy in 2012. The ski industry also provides a large amount of jobs.

So, Why do so many people love Utah's snow?

The quality, not just quantity, of snow in Utah is unbelievable. With 14 ski resorts, Utahns have a variety to choose from.

"The water density of the snow at Utah's ski resorts averages about seven percent, compared with 20% at most other resorts outside the state." (Utah.Gov)
This low percentage of water density is what gives Utah skiers and snowboarders the fresh, dry powder that they love. Fresh powder + bluebird skies = one happy skier/snowboarder.

The State of Utah Outdoor Recreation Vision also states, "Many of the top ski resorts in the nation are found in the Wasatch. Due to unique meteorological and geological features, these resorts average over 500 inches of snow each year"

Ski resorts offer escape from the inversion for many Utahns

Not only does skiing/snowboarding offer fresh air, it also unites family and friends, builds confidence and gets the community engaged in physical activity. In the State of Utah's words, it "Offers respite from the pressures of the hectic world, reducing depression and life stress."

What's causing climate change?

Although climate change is a complex problem with many underlying issues, it is tied to increased CO2 emissions. As CO2 emissions have increased, global temperatures have risen. Unfortunately, the ski industry is adding to these emissions.

"A single skier averages about 20 kilowatt-hours of energy consumption per day - the same amount a refrigerator uses in two weeks. Snowcats average six gallons of fuel an hour, and snowmaking is even more energy intensive." (Fox, 128)

As less snow is falling, ski resorts tend to make more artificial snow, which takes large sums of energy - thus contributing to emissions and making the problem worse. Also, skiers and snowboarders commute to ski resorts and contribute to global emissions.

How's climate change going to change the ski industry?

Already, Utahns are experiencing shorter winters and less precipitation - and it's only going to get worse if action is not taken.The ski industry in Utah effects far more than just snow sport enthusiasts.

"Skiers and scientists will tell you the same thing: Utah is getting warmer and it is getting drier. That means shorter winters and dramatic changes in the weather patterns that skiers in the west depend on for the unmatched snow conditions they enjoy." - Sheldon Whitehouse

What would happen if Utah's snowpack continues to decrease and/or the ski season is shortened?

  • Job loss
  • Damage to Utah's economy
  • Less tourism
  • Increased incidence of avalanches due to low snowpack
"The past decade has been the warmest on record, with 2015 being the warmest year ever. Meanwhile, the northern hemisphere has lost a million square miles of spring snowpack since 1970 - an area three times the size of Texas." (POW)

"...Low snowfall over the last 10 years has cost the winter tourism industry $1 billion and 27,000 jobs" (Fox 133)

Don't worry though, there are solutions to save OUR winter!

... And some people are already taking action!

  • Uber offers a feature for skiers/snowboarders to carpool to ski resorts. These ski resort specific cars are equip with ski racks. If more people carpooled to ski resorts, emissions would be significantly decreased.
  • "Utah's Alta Ski Area, Deer Crest Private Trails and Deer Valley are among the 108 ski areas nationwide to sign the BICEP climate declaration, which calls on federal policymakers to address climate change and seize the economic opportunities that come with climate action." (Whitehouse)
  • If our local ski resorts diminished energy insufficiencies, they would save money and decrease overall emissions.
  • Some ski resorts in other nations are experimenting with wind and solar powered chair lifts!
  • There is currently the Sustainable Slopes Grant Program which gives cash to sustainability projects at NSAA member ski areas. (NSAA) This grant provides incentive for ski areas to work towards sustainable and cleaner energy!
  • Reducing idling at ski resorts would significantly clean up local air.
  • Protect Our Winters is a group of athletes and industry brands with the common goal of leading towards positive climate action and preserving snow.


To allow future skiers and snowboarders to enjoy the Utah snow we know now and to protect the job outlook of future generations, we need to unite and save our winters! We can all do our part by carpooling to the mountain or informing fellow skiers on why idling is bad for our air! This is an opportunity for the ski industry to come together and protect the future of Utah's ski industry!


"About Us." POW. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2017. <>.

Fox, Porter. Deep: The Story Of Skiing and the Future of Snow. Jackson Hole: Rink House Productions. 2013. Print.

"Guest / Outreach Campaigns." NSAA. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

United States. The State of Utah. The State of Utah Outdoor Recreation Vision. Web. 22 Apr. 2017.

"Whitehouse Hears From Utah Skiers, Ski Industry on Effects of Climate Change." U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. N.p., 09 Aug. 2016. Web. 17 Apr. 2017

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