Is this change of name a sign that climate change is becoming a fundamental issue?

Exactly. Our forum was created in 1998 to raise awareness among meteorologists of the importance and the specific nature of weather forecasts in the mountains as part of a young risk culture designed to address issues related to risk identification, measures and prevention within a single field of science. But current thinking on climate change and its consequences, particularly in the mountain sector, is tending towards a long-term outlook, hence the need to combine weather and climate within our work.

So what does this mean?

Climate change is a reminder that snow is a fragile material, the production of which depends on the fulfilment of several specific conditions. If we want to preserve this magical product, that gives such joy and leisure opportunities as well as generating employment, we need to have a predictive and sustainable management of water in place for all its uses. For example, water stocks for artificial snow can also be used for recreational activities in the summer season as well as for agriculture, grazing, firefighting and even for drinking water in some cases. This requires precise management of this resource.

And consequently decision-support tools?

Of course. The new paradigm is the question of the “right snow”. We need to produce what we need and not more, at the right time and under the right conditions. More and more researchers and engineers working on short-, medium- and long-term forecasting tools attend our forum. A presentation was given at our latest edition, for example, on software to predict water usage in the Belleville valley which aggregates data to assess the different water needs based on instream flow. We also had access to the initial results of the European PROSNOW project that aims to optimise snow management at ski areas.

View the summary of the talks at the latest edition of Rencontres Climat Meteo Montagne, held in Menuires on 14 and 15 December 2018 (available soon)

Christian Reverbel

Founder of Rencontres Météo Montagne

Christian Reverbel is former Head of piste services for the Alpe d'Huez ski area and founder of Rencontres Météo Montagne, a forum that has brought together meteorologists, scientists and mountain professionals every year for the last twenty years.