The world “Could” needs our sympathy again

Could” and his/her/zher’s synonyms are doing all the work in an article about climate change again, the poor things.

By 2050 the average Australian snow season could be between 20 and 55 days shorter under a low risk scenario modelled by the CSIRO.

It’s always good to throw in a graph or chart showing how the trend is pointing to us all going to hell in a handbasket;

Ok, that looks bad. What’s the source, how was it collected and for what purpose? And why does it only start in 1955?

Here it is.

The data was collected by the Snowy Hydro project to keep track of what the likely water flow will be during spring each year.

There’s a handy disclaimer on the website about how much scientific credibility should be given to the data set;

Snow Depths Disclaimer

Snowy Hydro undertakes snow depth readings as required for operational purposes during the snow season. Updates on our website may be made on an irregular basis. For the latest information on snow conditions, we suggest that you visit the appropriate ski resort website.

Snowy Hydro supplies this information in good faith for the benefit of the public. The information was accurate at the time of recording. However, Snowy Hydro advises that the information now posted should not be relied upon, and therefore cannot incur liability for any loss or damage to third parties arising from how the information may be interpreted or used.

Ok. So an employee of the hydro plant goes out each month and shoves a measuring pole into the snow to estimate how much water will flow through the turbines later in the year.

On this basis, we’ve extrapolated that the Australian ski season will be half as long in 30 years’ time.

One might be excused for not putting one’s boots, poles and skis on eBay.com.au just yet then. As David Camacho points out, measuring snow depths in ski fields is not without its challenges too;

David Camacho

One of the biggest reasons for lower snow depths and shorter seasons is increased skier numbers and increased descents/day, carving away the snow which is not totally overcome by piste grooming machines.

Every time a skier descends, they carve away some snow. This is most extreme on warm sunny days. But also important after fresh snowfalls on thin bases. Especially if the season opens before a firm natural base has developed.

Data should be limited to stations where no skiers affect the snowbase, as then you have eliminated an enormous variable from data.

Just like quadrupling the size of resort villages creates an urban heat island effect….

Unfortunately for Eryk Bagshaw (and presumably his boss, Peter “weather is climate” Hannam) his own article suggests that the public aren’t buying this Chicken Little-ism. Expressed preferences versus revealed preferences are most apparent in the price of property in ski fields;

But there have never been more skiers or snowboarders heading to Perisher, Thredbo or Falls Creek.

Houses prices in Jindabyne and Cooma have grown by 42 per cent since 2008, below the 65 per cent average for the rest of regional NSW.

Victorian alpine areas have been more fortunate, mostly due to their closer proximity to Melbourne, according to Domain data scientist Nicola Powell. Bright has seen Sydney levels of price growth, up 122 per cent over the past decade.

Bill’s Opinion

It would be interesting to seek legal opinion on the likelihood of success of a compensation claim for an owner of a ski-field property in Australia who sold on the back of Erik’s advice and subsequently lost money when the big thaw never happened.

What are the consequences of predictions such as these based on highly-questionable scientific methods?

Oh, and we’ll just leave this little gem from today here;

Awkward.

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