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Could climate change put an end to the Winter Olympics?

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Could climate change put an end to the Winter Olympics?

A man carries his skis as snow melts at the limit of the ski slopes in Whistler, BC, on Feb. 8, 2010. The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are now underway. But by the turn of the century, future Winter Olympic events may cease to exist. A recent study has projected that only 11 of the previous 19 Winter Games sites would be viable locations in the coming decades. Sochi and Vancouver, the most recent host cities, would no longer have appropriate climates for winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and luge. From the University of Waterloo and Austria's Management Center Innsbruck, the research found that the average daytime temperature during the Winter Games has increased over the years, rising more than seven degrees from the 1920s to the 2000s. Refrigeration and snow production are now integral parts of planning. "Despite technological advances, there are limits to what current weather risk management strategies can cope with," says Prof. Daniel Scott, lead author of the study. "By the middle of this century, these limits will be surpassed in some former Winter Olympic host regions." Since weather impacts the success of the games, organizers may need to look at risk management strategies when selecting host cities in the coming years. Past Winter Olympic host locations are expected to warm more than four degrees by late-century. Former Winter Olympic locations that are climatically suitable for future Games. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images, courtesy NW Group/University of Waterloo)
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Could climate change put an end to the Winter Olympics?

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