Is Skiing Good for the Health of Glaciers, or Speeding Their Demise?

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Closely examine any photo of the Horstman T-Bar, or any glacier other glacier T-Bar, and you’ll notice something peculiar—it sits about 10 feet higher than the surrounding snow. Examining this while reporting on the Whistler Blackcomb’s removal of the historic Horstman T-Bar, we wondered the significance of it’s elevated position with regards to snowmelt.

Coastal ski areas like Whistler Blackcomb receive deluges of black and brown carbon (smoke and soot which are the result of burning fossil fuels) coming over the Pacific, depositing itself on top of the snowpack. This carbon buildup reduces the albedo of the snowpack—or the amount of solar energy that it reflects into the atmosphere—increasing its absorption of solar radiation and quickening its melt.

Add skiers and things get more interesting. Skier movement clears the snow and…

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