Saving Pasterze with artificial snow costs 106 million euros per year

Climate Change & Tourism. Would glacier preservation with artificial snow be conceivable? The preservation of the Pasterze would be feasible, but hardly profitable in view of the achievable tourism income, calculates the University of Graz.

On Austria’s largest and best-known glacier, climate change can be understood like nowhere else, according to a broadcast by the United Graz: The Pasterze has clearly lost mass over the past few decades, and with the ice, its attractiveness to tourists is also dwindling.

Could a layer of artificial snow save the glacier? This hypothetical experiment was carried out by researchers at the University of Graz. The calculation included the maintenance costs on the one hand and the income from tourism on the other.

The calculation

“Based on modelling, we found that there would be enough water to provide the Pasterze with a protective layer against melting with artificial snow,” reports Jakob Abermann from the Institute for Geography and Spatial Research at the University of Graz, the main author of the study.

Apart from the ecological consequences, however, the project would not be viable from an economic point of view. The results show that the costs of conservation would already be many times higher than all existing tourism revenues combined. In concrete terms, the study comes to an average of 106 million euros per year in maintenance costs, which would be offset by only a quarter of the tourism income saved directly through maintenance (The study: „Too expensive to keep – bidding farewell to an iconic mountain glacier? Regional Environmental Change“).

Interessant ist auch eine Gegenüberstellung der Kosten pro Skifahrer: „If we relate this cost to the 20% of current annual tourist arrivals that were identified as rather the upper bound of being primarily attracted by (Pasterze glacier), the preventive costs amount to approximately €656 per tourist arrival“, heißt es.

The costs keep rising

With the rising temperatures, the effort would be even greater in the near future, as one would have to compensate for considerably more melt. “We would like to point out that we are not pursuing a concrete, feasible idea or an order here, but have used an excellent data basis in order to be able to narrow down the climatological and economic boundary conditions in principle,” says Abermann on the motivation for the study.

In any case, the example clearly shows how difficult it would be to compensate for the consequences of climate change. According to the University of Graz, studies by the Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change at the University of Graz show that a 90 percent reduction in CO2 emissions would be necessary to preserve our living environment.

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