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Pyrenean snowfall could be cut by half

Pyrenean snowfall could be cut by half

By the end of the century skiing holidays to the Pyrenees could be a distant memory, according to a study which says snowfalls could decrease by half.

Spanish scientists from the Pyrenean Ecological Institute predicted that temperatures in the mountain range in eastern Spain and south-west France could rise by between 2.8C and 4C by the start of the 22nd century. At the same time, snowfall levels could decline by between 30% and 50%.

The study also claimed that the slopes above 2,000 metres may see snow for only four to five months, whereas today they are covered for up to six months.

The report, published in the International Journal of Climatology, also claimed rainfall levels could go down by between 10.7% and 14.8% a year by the end of this century.

Researchers said the predictions, which cover the period between 2070 and 2100, were based on possible rises in greenhouse gases. They used six climate models which accurately estimated conditions in the Pyrenees between 1960 and 1990.

Juan Ignacio López-Moreno, a geographer, who led the Spanish High Council for Scientific Research team, said that in the best-case scenario, if emissions were low, by 2100 average temperatures could rise by 2.8C. However, if emissions rose, temperatures would increase by 4C.

López-Moreno said this could have major implications for the Pyrenees.

Meanwhile, the European Union of Geoscientists warned this week that glaciers and mountain snows were melting earlier in the year than usual, meaning water will have already evaporated when millions of people need it in the summer.

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