Our Changing Snowscapes - Protect Our Winters Australia

Our Changing

Snowscapes

Climate Change Impacts and

Recommendations for the Australian Alps

Our Changing Snowscapes

Climate Change Impacts and Recommendations for the Australian Alps

Why POW Australia commissioned this report:

This report, titled Our Changing Snowscapes: Climate Change Impacts and Recommendations for the Australian Alps was developed by the Australian Mountain Research Facility and ANU. POW Australia initiated this report to address fragmented and outdated information on climate impacts in the Australian Alps, which has previously focused on snowfall and ecological changes while neglecting social and economic consequences.

By commissioning this report, we aimed to consolidate the latest knowledge on climate impacts and projections for the Australian Alps, considering a wide range of economic, social and environmental factors. The spectacular Australian Alps extend over 1.6 million hectares of public land across 11 national parks and nature reserves in New South Wales, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory. They are home to nationally significant winter-tourism industries, vibrant regional communities and some of Australia's most unique and fragile landscapes.

What this report covers:

This report provides a comprehensive review of academic literature on current and projected climate change impacts on the Australian Alps - and introduces new, Australia-first modelling of these impacts on the ski industry. It highlights a series of interconnected effects on alpine tourism, regional communities, hydroelectricity, high country water flows to the Murray-Darling Basin, carbon sequestration, high country ecosystems, and First Nations impacts. The report also makes recommendations on how we can best respond to these challenges.

You're invited! For those in Canberra, ANU is hosting a panel event on the Our Changing Snowscapes report on June 13th 5:30-7:30PM. For those everywhere else you can join the live stream - register your attendance now here.

Executive Summary

The Australian Alps region encompasses approximately 5,200 km2 above the nominal seasonal snowline in south-eastern Australia.

The Australian Alps is one of Australia’s most unique and fragile landscapes, with 31 endemic flora species and further endemic fauna species, including the Mountain Pygmy Possum and Southern Corroboree Frog. Flora and fauna of the Australian Alps is particularly vulnerable to climate change, because unlike in many other countries, there are limited higher elevation areas which replicate their original habitats in a new climate.

The spectacular Australian Alps extend over 1.6 million hectares of public land contained in 11 national parks and nature reserves across New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (VIC), and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

The impact of climate change on temperature, precipitation, and snow conditions in the Australian Alps is stark and has been heralded for more than three decades. In 1988, Galloway et al. predicted that climate change will drastically impact the Australian Alps, and that even small temperature increases would have a catastrophic impact on the Australian winter tourism industry. The Australian snowpack is now at a 2,000-year low. Snow cover between 1954 and 2012 has reduced by 30% and the length of the ski season has already contracted by 17% - 28% across most Australian alpine resorts. Businesses and regional communities at present are experiencing the impacts of climate change and these impacts are projected to worsen rapidly without decisive climate mitigation.

Report Sections

The entire Our Changing Snowscapes report is 129 pages long and is available to download in PDF format using the button below.

To make the report more approachable for our community and the general public we have broken it down into individual sections.

Click on the tiles below to browse the report contents and access a section summary, the key recommendations and a downloadable PDF version of each report section.

Note: This is a reasonably large file (36MB), please be patient as it downloads.
  • Climate

    Projections

    The impact of climate change on the Australian Alps is

    stark and has been heralded for more than three decades.

    Climate Projections

    The impact of climate change on the Australian Alps is stark and has been heralded for more than three decades.

  • Alpine

    Tourism

    If the current trajectory of climate change continues, the

    Australian ski industry will change dramatically by 2050.

    Alpine Tourism

    If the current trajectory of climate change continues, the Australian ski industry will change dramatically by 2050.

  • Regional

    Communities

    The total economic contribution of alpine resorts to the

    Australian economy was an estimated $3.33 billion in 2019.

    Regional Communities

    The total economic contribution of alpine resorts to the Australian economy was an estimated $3.33 billion in 2019.

  • Hydroelectricity in the

    Australian Alps

    Hydroelectricity production in the Australian Alps will face

    reduced inflows as a result of climate change.

    Hydroelectricity in the Australian Alps

    Hydroelectricity production in the Australian Alps will face reduced inflows as a result of climate change.

  • Murray-Darling

    Basin

    The Australian Alps provide 9,600GL of water per year into the

    Murray-Darling Basin - around 29% of the Basin’s annual flows.

    Murray-Darling Basin

    The Australian Alps provide 9,600GL of water per year into the Murray-Darling Basin - around 29% of the Basin’s annual flows.

  • Carbon

    Sequestration

    Soils in the Australian Alps have high organic material

    & carbon content, making them important carbon sinks.

    Carbon Sequestration

    Soils in the Australian Alps have high organic material & carbon content, making them important carbon sinks.

  • High Country

    Ecosystems

    Climate change is already impacting alpine ecosystems,

    threatening extinctions & causing ecological transformation.

    High Country Ecosystems

    Climate change is already impacting alpine ecosystems, threatening extinctions & causing ecological transformation.

  • First

    Nations

    The Alps have great significance to First Nations, particularly

    as a site for annual celebrations & spiritual connection.

    First Nations

    The Alps have great significance to First Nations, particularly as a site for annual celebrations & spiritual connection.

  • Decision-making &

    Governance

    The greater climate mitigation action that can be achieved,

    the more likely adaptation will generate desirable outcomes.

    Decision-making & Governance

    The greater climate mitigation action that can be achieved, the more likely adaptation will generate desirable outcomes.

  • Mitigation &

    Adaptation Strategies

    Report Appendix: Reviewing formal government strategy in

    the context of the Australian Alps.

    Mitigation & Adaptation Strategies

    Report Appendix: Reviewing formal government strategy in the context of the Australian Alps.

  • Support POW Today

    POW Australia is a non-profit organisation run entirely by volunteers. We are investing on behalf of our community to fight for the places you love and protect our alpine environments. We need your support to keep pushing and protecting winters in Australia.

    Protect Our Winters Australia acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land upon which we live, work and play. We pay respects to the Elders, past, present and future, across the many Nations. Their ancestral ties to country have never been extinguished, and sovereignty never ceded.

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