This season, a resort on the southern side of the Alps received the least snow in recorded history, according to Meteo Swiss.
Between December 2016 and February 2017, the resort of Bosco-Gurin in Ticino received snow cover of only 14 cm. This is the lowest depth since the region started recording snow depth in 1961. 14 cm is strikingly low when set against an average of around 70 cm since 1961.
Further east in Davos, the situation was little better. Over the same period this season, 27 cm fell, only 1 to 3 cm more than previous lows in 2006/2007, 1995/1996 and 1989/1990. A valley over, in Arosa, this season was the second least snowy on record behind 1989/1990.
Over the last few decades mountain snowfall has declined noticeably, says Meteo Swiss. Measuring stations in the western Alps have recorded a decline in snowfall of between 15% to 20% when comparing the period from 1961-1990 to the period from 1991-2017.
In Bosco-Gurin the overall decline between these periods has been a 12% drop from 77 cm to 68 cm. This season’s 14 cm is only 18% of the average snowfall between 1961 and 1990.
A recent study by Swiss researcher published on The Cryosphere predicts the number of snow days may be more than halved at an elevation of around 1,500 m by the end of the century. And on the lowlands, two or fewer snow days are predicted by then. Their projections reveal a decrease in snow depth for all elevations, time periods and green house gas emission scenarios. By 2100, the winter season is predicted to start half a month to one month later and to end one to three months earlier.