Making snow green(ish)

The featured image for this entry is a map of locations in the US and Europe that store snow. Craftsbury is the lowest in both latitude and elevation, making if a challenging test. Read more in the article at FasterSkier. I was at Craftsbury early last season as they were beginning to store snow.

Photo of snow being added to Craftsbury snow store
Adding snow to Craftsbury snow store last winter

Among the challenges:

  • Melt-off during summer
  • Limits on use of water at Craftsbury
  • Energy use of machinery to make and store snow
  • Heavy equipment required
  • Craftsbury commitment to sustainability and the environment
  • Manpower and other resource needs for covering snow

The quotes below are all from the article “Innovation and the Science of Over Summer Snow Storage at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center” by Rachel Perkins:

COC has partnered with the University of Vermont (UVM) on a project to develop an innovative over summer snow storage system. The system aims to guarantee one to three kilometers of skiable snow by Thanksgiving each year. 

Paul Bierman, professor of Geology and Natural Resources at UVM explains that the project is unique because Craftsbury is the lowest in latitude and elevation of any snow storage site. The majority of cross-country venues with snow storage systems are located in high latitude Scandinavia or in mountainous high altitude areas in Central Europe.

Prof. Bierman and his team started doing tests two years ago, which determined the optimal ways to store quantities of snow through the summer months. In the pilot that took place this year, they found they could hold onto nearly two-thirds of the stored snow volume, comparable to snow storage at higher latitudes.

If you want to read all about it, check out the project site at the University of Vermont

Not a big surprise, Prof. Bierman is a cross-country skier. What an idea for mitigating some of the consequences of global warming: let’s science the s**t out of it.