Climate change at Utah ski resorts: Impacts, perceptions, and adaptation strategies (data and code)

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Created: Nov 04, 2020 at 3:42 p.m.
Last updated: Aug 11, 2021 at 4:44 p.m.
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Climate change is a threat to ski resorts, the ski industry, and mountain communities that rely on ski tourism. Ski resorts may be able to mitigate some of the social and economic impacts caused by climate change with proactive adaptation strategies. Using historical weather data, future climate projections, and interviews with ski resort managers in Utah (USA), this research investigates the effects of climate change on ski resorts across the state. We examine past temperature change at all resorts from 1980 – 2018, and climate projections from 2021 – 2100 under different climate change scenarios (RCP 2.6, 4.5, and 8.5). Semi-structured interviews with resort managers also provide insights into how resort leadership perceives the impacts of climate change, are implementing adaptation strategies, and are addressing barriers to adaptation. Many resorts in Utah are warming faster than global averages, and minimum temperatures are rising faster than maximum temperatures. By the end of the century, winter (December – March) minimum daily temperatures in Utah could warm an additional 6.0°C under the RCP 8.5 scenario near Northern Utah resorts, and 6.6°C near Southern Utah resorts. Resort managers are concerned about shorter season lengths, shifting ski seasons, less snow cover, and poorer snow quality. Many resorts are already adapting, with the most common adaptations being snowmaking and diversifying outdoor recreation offerings (particularly during the summer and shoulder seasons). Barriers to adaptation reported by managers include financial costs, adequate water availability for snowmaking, and uncertainty about climate change projections. Climate change is already impacting Utah ski resorts, but adaptation practices can reduce the negative impacts to some degree at most resorts.

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Resource Level Coverage


Coordinate System/Geographic Projection:
WGS 84 EPSG:4326
Coordinate Units:
Decimal degrees
Place/Area Name:
North Latitude
East Longitude
South Latitude
West Longitude


Start Date:
End Date:


Additional Metadata

Name Value
Snow Density Data Source : SNOTEL
Climate Projection Dataset The NA-CORDEX, NCAR Climate Data Gateway.; accessed on 3 August 2020.



Derived From: NA-CORDEX, NCAR Climate Data Gateway.; accessed on 3 August 2020.


Funding Agencies

This resource was created using funding from the following sources:
Agency Name Award Title Award Number
National Science Foundation 1633756

How to Cite

Akbar, H., E. J. Wilkins, T. Saley, R. Hager (2021). Climate change at Utah ski resorts: Impacts, perceptions, and adaptation strategies (data and code), HydroShare,

This resource is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY.


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