Climate and Human Activity
Human activities also depend on the climate: tourism, particularly in winter, plays an important role in the economy of alpine regions. Enough snow is a necessary condition for winter sports activities in the Alps and for the scenery to correspond to the visitors' expectations. Climate change impact on snow levels will be negative for winter tourism, particularly at lower elevations. On the other hand, more frequent heat waves could be positive for summer tourism in the alpine area as visitors might be looking for cooler locations. Further, in many places summer tourism is regarded less important in economic terms compared to the winter season. In any way, summer tourism activities also depend on favourable weather conditions.
Mountain agriculture depends on topography and climate. It is relatively time-consuming and expensive as topography often prevents mechanization. The harsh climate only allows a short vegetation period, not favourable to anything else but pasture and forests. State subsidies, quality niche products such as renowned local cheese or meat specialities as well as complementary activities linked to tourism allow the survival of mountain agriculture. With a longer vegetation period, climate change is expected to be globally positive for Alpine agriculture.
Especially at lower altitudes,the climate change impact will have a negative effects on traditional winter sport activities. In Winters such as 06/07 even high-tech artificial snow making systems could not produce snow at lower altitudes as it was too warm (Source: CIPRA Germany).