Warming Climate, No Snow Means No Go for Winter Olympics In Many Cities

Feb 1, 2022

A Winter Olympics with no real snow sure seems strange. But when the 2022 Beijing Olympics open Friday, it will be the first time athletes at Winter Games compete totally on artificial snow. Climate change has reduced the amount falling from the sky.

That’s bad news for two reasons. Athletes don’t like the fake stuff. It ices up faster. Fake snow also makes the slopes more dangerous. Experts say it highlights the threat climate change poses to the Games.

In Beijing, only about 8 millimeters of snow falls each year. So, hundreds of snow cannons draw on water from a reservoir. Then, they blast snow onto the slopes. Experts say climate change could even threaten China’s chances of ever hosting the Games again.

Climate change brings higher temperatures, low snow, wet snow, or rain. That could mean previous host cities won’t be able to host again. That's according to a University of Waterloo study. Those cities are Chamonix, France; Squaw Valley, California; Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; and Sochi, Russia. 

By 2050, if current climate trends continue, the study found, five more former Olympic cities will be added to that list. They are Innsbruck, Austria; PyeongChang, South Korea; Grenoble, France; Turin, Italy; and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. 

By the end of 2100, if the planet’s warming is not stalled, only Sapporo, Japan would be able to host another. The city hosted the Games in 1972.

And hopes of seeing athletes competing on real snow every four years at many venues for the Winter Games seem to be melting away.

Photo from Reuters.

Which of the following statements best summarizes the article? (Common Core RI.5.2; RI.6.2)
a. Olympic athletes hate competing in fake snow.
b. The snow at the 2022 Winter Olympics will be fake because of climate change, experts say.
c. The snow at the 2022 Winter Olympics will be fake because of climate change, experts say.
d. Climate change will drastically change the events at the Winter Olympics by the end of the century.
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