News / Science & Technology

Climate Change Threatens Winter Olympics

The Caucasus Mountains, site of several 2014 Winter Olympic events, rise in the background as a palm tree stands in the Coastal Cluster's Olympic Park in Sochi, Russia, Jan. 30, 2014.
The Caucasus Mountains, site of several 2014 Winter Olympic events, rise in the background as a palm tree stands in the Coastal Cluster's Olympic Park in Sochi, Russia, Jan. 30, 2014.
Rosanne Skirble
As world athletes head to Sochi, Russia, for the 22nd Olympic Winter Games, their success may depend a lot on the weather. Nine of the 15 sports take place outdoors and require snow or ice.  There is already concern over forecasts that the weather leading up the Games is expected to turn milder, which could lead to deteriorating conditions on the slopes.

Climate Change Threatens Winter Olympics
Climate Change Threatens Winter Olympicsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

According to a new study, climate change will become more of a problem in the future, given the steady rise in global temperatures
 
Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada and Management Center Innsbruck in Austria analyzed weather conditions for all 19 cities that have hosted the Winter Olympics since the Games began in 1924. 

Lead author and climate expert Daniel Scott from the University of Waterloo says historic records and climate predictions indicate that by mid-century, only 10 of those cities could host the Games. 

“By the end of the century, that number dropped to as low as six under the warmest scenario,” he said. 

Fewer cities cold enough to host Games

The Winter Games require weather cold enough to make snow and sustain a snowpack. Beginning in the 1980s, host cities began taking measures to ensure that. They made artificial snow and built refrigerated tracks for luge and bobsled. High resolution weather forecasts also helped in day-to-day operations.

But the planet has been warming since the 1950s, as more carbon emissions from cars, power plants and buildings spew into the atmosphere.  Vancouver was hit by a warm front a week before the 2010 Olympics, too warm to make snow. 

“They had to bring in the straw bales," Scott said. "They put what limited snow they could over top of those. And that was just sufficient to do some of the moguls and some of the other types of events that were scheduled there.”

Some question whether Sochi, a seaside town, will fare any better. It is the warmest city ever to host the Winter Olympics, with an average temperature of 10 degrees Celsius. Outdoor events are scheduled many kilometers away.  

Report recommends IOC look at alternatives

Scott says the report recommends that the International Olympic Committee consider new venues like northern China, which has the elevation for downhill ski events, and new partnerships. 

“Maybe Seattle and Salt Lake City could make a rebid," he suggested, "where you have a main Olympic venue, a bigger city that can accommodate the size that the Olympics has grown to, but there will be a secondary location with a smaller part of the Games that has all the skiing events, and it is located in a much more climate reliable location.”  

Scott says while the report highlights the challenges that lie ahead for Olympic athletes, it also underscores the decline in areas suitable for any winter sports enthusiast in a warmer world, unless dramatic steps are taken to reduce climate changing emissions.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid