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Saturday, November 14, 1998 Published at 14:09 GMT

World: Europe

Ski resorts fear meltdown

Rain may replace snow at lower altitude ski resorts

Some popular Italian ski resorts could be without snow by 2008 if winter temperatures continue to rise at their present rate, according to European scientists.

Global warming
A report circulated at a meeting at Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy of international experts on alpine climate change said that skiing may no longer be possible in at least a dozen Italian resorts, situated at 1,500 metres or lower.

This would include Cortina d'Ampezzo and Courmayeur, according to the research by scientists from the University of Vienna.

The Italian Dolomites have linked ski pistes which stretch for more than 400 kilometres and provide winter sports enthusiasts with one of the world's longest continuous ski runs.

Skiing fears

The President of the Dolomite Super Ski Run, Gianni Marzola, said he is seriously worried about the implications for ski tourism of global warming.

[ image: Will young Alberta Tombas have snow to practise on?]
Will young Alberta Tombas have snow to practise on?
"We're already finding it difficult to find enough water to create artificial snow when there's not enough real snow about," he said.

Last summer, Swiss scientists said 90% of alpine glaciers are expected to melt within the next half century, causing floods, landslides and threatening economic disaster for tens of thousands of permanent inhabitants of alpine uplands.

A research organisation from Germany reported that although winter temperatures in the German Alps are not expected to rise as much as summer temperatures, the greenhouse effect will mean that rain will fall in many areas where snow fell before, making skiing impossible.

One Italian scientist, however, Dario Camuffo, cautioned that the greenhouse effect is slow and predictions were impossible.

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