We look after our environment!
Environment & Climate Change
Snow making for ski runs...
- ...helps to balance snowfall fluctuation during the season.
- ...increases the skier's safetey thanks to constant, good snow quality.
- ...reliable snow conditions in particular regarding valley runs and main ski pistes.
- ...covers those parts along the ski runs where snow is sprase such as sunny slopes and frequently used lift-access areas, when the rest of the ski runs are well covered with snow.
Is the water modified with artificial snow making?
As with the case of natural snow, water is changed into another form. The quality of the water used is our top priority. Machine snow has nothing to do with chemicals!
Which impacts does machine snow have on vegetation?
Artificial machine snow has no negative impact on the natural vegatation. On the contrary: machine snow protects sensitive areas from snow groomers and ski edges. An adequate snow cover insulates the ground and avoids soil freezing in autumn and spring. The snowmelt in spring contributes to soil moisturisation.
To what extent does global warming have an effect on snow making?
Results of studies: there has always been natural climate oscillation, winter with a lot of snow and winter with less snow take turns. For the artificial snow making, not only the altitude, air temperature, air humidity, and water temperature are relevant. Other, small-scale climatic conditions, such as the exposure of the territory, influence of foehn, protection of surrouning mountain ridges, and inversion have to be considered. For example, in Schladming, the preconditions for snow making are better in the lower areas than at over 1000 metres because of the narrow valleys (Prof. Dr. Ulrike Pröbstl, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, 2007).
Is it a goal to stretch winter season into spring due to machine snow?
Artificial snow making mainly serves snow reliability in autumn. Most of the snow days are in autumn and early winter. By the end of January, snow making is mostly completed. Furthermore, the interest in winter sports decreases strongly from mid March onwards. The snow making on glaciers has gained in importance. It makes early season starts possible and delays deglaciation.
Water and air - nothing else!!
How snow forms
Whether natural snow or artificial snow - snow consists exclusively of water and air. Snow forms tiny condensed water drops that are built by cooling down and oversaturation of atmospheric air in the clouds. When temperatures are low, tiny ice crystals are formed, which are drawn down to earth due to gravity. During their fall through various layers of air, the tiny ice crystals grow, forming the typical snow crystals. These snow crystals collide and stick together, making snowflakes. According to water content and size of the snowflakes it is distinguished between various kinds of natural snow. From powder snow to wet spring snow.
Main principals of artificial snow making
Just like natural snow, artificial snow consitst of water and air only. The difference solely lies in the production: it is made by machines. When making snow artificially, the forming of natural snow is imitated.
Climatic conditions for production of machine snow
When talking about "snowmaking temeratures", it is referred to the wet-ball temperature. The wet-ball temperature is the result of dry-ball temperature (=temperature that can be read off the thermometre) and the relative air moisture in %. Due to the evaporative heat loss, the wet-ball temperature always lies below the air temperature. The difference of temperature is the higher the dryer the ambient air is. With an air moisture of 100 %, now more water can evaporise, and the wet-ball temperature equal the dry-ball temperature.
Optimal for snowmaking is a low dry-ball temperature and low air moisture. The higher air moisture, the less favourable the conditions for snowmaking, since the already moist ambience air can only take little or even no moisture. The wet-ball temperature is measured by the snow makers. At the beginning of the snowmaking season, there are often limit temperatures, which constitute one of the great challenges regarding snwomaking preparedness and snow quality.
If the wet-ball temperature drops, more snow can be produced faster. Moreover, an essential role for efficient snow making and good snow quality plays the water temperature, which is ideally slightly above the freezing point. Warm water is brought to the right temperatures in cooling towers.