Winter tourism is highly sensitive to climate change. The sufficiently studied altitudinally dependent line of natural snow reliability is losing its relevance for skilift operators in Austria, where 59% of the ski area is covered by artificial snowmaking. But the diffusion of snowmaking facilities cannot be monocausally linked to climate change, as trends in tourism, prestige, and competitive advantage are important factors. Despite the fact that snowmaking is limited by climatological factors, skilift operators trust in technical improvements and believe the future will not be as menacing as assumed by recent climate change impact studies. The aim of the present study is to define reasons for the diffusion of snowmaking systems and to determine whether snowmaking can be a viable adaptation strategy despite ongoing warming, using a simple degree-day model. Results obtained with this method of assessing technical snow reliability show that current snowmaking intensity will not be sufficient to guarantee the desired 100-day season at elevations below 1500–1600 m. Snowmaking will still be possible climatically even at lower elevations, but the required intensification of capacity will lead to significantly higher operation costs.
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