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Wednesday, 12 April, 2000, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Cash grant is snow joke
Snowy moor
Snowfall levels have dropped over the years
A team of university scientists has been awarded a 10,000 grant to study snow in Scotland.

The money, from the Scottish Executive, will be used by researchers at Stirling University to examine the effects of climate changes in Scotland on skiing and other industries.

Last year, the team, from the university's department of environmental science, warned the skiing industry faced a bleak future because climatic changes would leave lower snowfall levels on "nursery slopes".

It predicted snowfall levels would drop dramatically by 2050 and the industry would have to adapt in order to survive.

The environmental science research group will assess the effects of changing snowfall levels on a wide area of Scots industries that depend on snow.

Cairngorm with snow
The Cairngorm ski area with snow ...
The skiing industry, water resource management, winter road and rail management will all be question about how they will be affected by less snow.

Researchers will predict changing patterns of snowfall over Scotland and its impact on the economy, land use and environment.

The team is led by Dr John Harrison, vice dean of the faculty of natural sciences at Stirling University.

He said: "Prediction will be based on climatic analogues. The Scottish climatic shifts can be represented as the more frequent occurrence of what has previously been regarded as exceptional winter warmth.

"So, indications of future snow patterns may be found in our climatic records.

"Climactic change has accelerated over the past 20 years and we are asking people how they coped with it.

Cairngorm in summer
... and the same area without snow
"A general assumption has been that we are getting less snow but that is not the case in all areas of Scotland.

"We are studying areas where people's lives and their livelihood are affected by snow cover in order to predict future trends."

Dr Harrison warned last year that climatic change was having an impact on the availability of snow to the extent that nursery slopes may disappear altogether.

There would only be enough snow to sustain the industry from around 1,000 metres up.

He also said as skiers were forced to go higher in search of slopes, there was a greater risk of avalanche, hypothermia and accidents.

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03 Dec 99 | Scotland
Grim forecast for Scotland
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