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Thesis Defence: Snow Conditions and the Demand for Skier Accommodation in British Columbia: A Comparison of Climate Change Impacts under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 Emission Scenarios
May 24 at 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Wendelin Giesler, supervised by Dr. Michael Pidwirny and Dr. John Janmaat, will defend their thesis titled “Snow Conditions and the Demand for Skier Accommodation in British Columbia: A Comparison of Climate Change Impacts under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 Emission Scenarios” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Earth and Environmental Sciences.
An abstract for Wendelin Giesler’s thesis is included below.
Examinations are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public.
Registration is not required for in person defences.
Ski resorts around the world are facing rapidly warming winter temperatures and shifts in precipitation patterns, likely impacting the demand for resort skiing and affecting regional businesses. Previous work investigates the future of alpine skiing in Europe, eastern Canada, and in the US, finding variable results depending on the analyzed region and research methods. Within-seasonal impacts of changing climate conditions on customer demand are little researched and the ski region of British Columbia (BC) remains virtually unexplored. Via a multiple regression model, this research project investigates the reactivity of rental apartment bookings surrounding four selected ski resorts in BC to short-term changes in snowfall, rainfall, and temperatures. Expected future weather and snow conditions are then simulated for each location under the emission scenarios RCP4.5 and RCP8.5, permitting insights into skiing conditions by the mid and late 21st century. Expected activity levels are finally attributed to future skiing conditions, providing an estimate of within-seasonal climate change impacts on the ski industry while holding supply and properties of rental apartments constant. The results differ among the sample of resorts with the colder resorts in the interior of BC displaying future increases in snowfall and moderate increases in rainfall levels. The resorts with warmer baseline temperatures are projected to experience significant increases in winter rainfall and steady or decreasing snowfall levels depending on the emission scenario. Demand levels surrounding all resorts are shown to increase with higher snowfall levels and decrease due to the impacts of winter rainfall. While expected climate change impacts differ insubstantially at the investigated resorts between the two emission scenarios by 2055, RCP4.5 leads to distinctly lower losses by 2085 than seen under RCP8.5. The study provides a first assessment of behavioural demand trends surrounding ski resorts in BC. Results indicate that while within-seasonal impacts of global warming might be modest at less than 10 % losses in total rental probabilities, the moderate warming scenario RCP4.5 would mitigate part of the projected losses, which can primarily be attributed to increasing rainfall during the ski season. The analysis provides resorts and stakeholders with tools and first estimates to predict customer trends based on weather forecasts as well as long-term expected changes in climate conditions and demand levels.