A putting new satellite tv for pc picture reveals the stark distinction between synthetic snow and the in any other case arid and rocky mountains getting used on the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The picture, which was captured by the Landsat 8 satellite tv for pc on Jan. 29, reveals the Yanqing Olympic Zone on Xiaohaituo Mountain, nicknamed “the rock” and situated round 46 miles (74 kilometers) northwest of Beijing. The realm is getting used to stage sliding sports activities (bobsled, skeleton and luge) and Alpine snowboarding, all of which require lengthy tracks of snow or ice, which require 1000’s of cubic ft of snow. Nonetheless, the area receives a median of just one.3 inches (3.3 centimeters) of snow in February, in line with NASA’s Earth Observatory.
Consequently, the Beijing Video games, which formally started on Feb. 4, are the primary Winter Olympics that may require just about 100% synthetic snow for all snow-based sports activities, which additionally embrace ski leaping, freestyle snowsports and cross-country snowboarding, in line with a new report written by researchers at Loughborough College in England. Using synthetic snow has brought about appreciable controversy and led to backlash from environmentalists and among the competing athletes.
Synthetic snow requires an unlimited quantity of water and power to provide. Within the new report, the researchers estimate that the Beijing Video games will use at the least 42.4 million cubic ft (1.2 million cubic meters) of synthetic snow, which, in flip, would require round 59 million gallons (223 million liters) of water to make. To make that a lot snow, organizers have put in 300 snow cannons powered by 130 turbines which might be provided by eight water cooling towers and three pumping stations.
China has claimed that the Winter Olympics will likely be powered utilizing 100% renewable power, in line with the BBC.
Synthetic snow additionally poses plenty of different environmental points, in line with the report. To maximise the longevity of the faux snow, chemical compounds are added to the water to assist forestall it from melting. These chemical compounds could cause important injury to crops lined by the snow, and runoff into rivers can have an effect on close by areas. The delayed melting of synthetic snow can even disrupt plant and animal habits, and noise air pollution created by snow cannons can have an effect on native wildlife, the researchers wrote.
The composition of synthetic snow additionally makes a distinction for athletes; it is virtually 30% ice and 70% air, whereas pure snow is nearer to 10% ice and 90% air, in line with the report. This distinction makes artificial-snow slopes each sooner and bodily tougher than the natural-snow slopes athletes usually prepare on, which might journey up even probably the most skilled athletes, the researchers wrote within the new report. The situations can even make accidents from accidents extra extreme.
There have already been plenty of high-profile crashes in Alpine snowboarding within the first few days of the present video games. American skier Nina O’Brien suffered compound fractures in her proper leg after crashing into the ending space in the course of the large slalom. Fellow American and medal-hopeful Mikaela Shiffrin additionally crashed early in each the large slalom and slalom races, though she averted severe damage. And within the males’s downhill, German skier Dominik Schwaiger was airlifted to a hospital with a suspected damaged left arm after a serious wipeout.
Crashes and main accidents have all the time been a giant threat for Alpine skiers, and not one of the injured athletes has instantly blamed the synthetic floor — however this hasn’t stopped followers and commentators from speculating that it could be at the least partially accountable. Solely after all of the races have been completed, will organizers have the ability to inform precisely how the snow impacted athletes.
Nonetheless, regardless of any opposition to synthetic snow, local weather change may imply extra of it at future Winter Olympics. “From the Alps to the Pyrenees, the Rockies to the Andes, snowsports followers are reporting shorter seasons, decrease snowfall ranges and melting glaciers,” researchers wrote within the report.
Initially printed on Reside Science.