fredag 4. februar 2022

How to Make Snow for a Winter Olympics in a Dry City

Wang Feiteng has spent much of his career keeping an eye on China’s glaciers, making arduous treks into the mountains every year to study how to slow their decline in a warming world. More recently, however, his work has involved a different kind of ice formation. Wang and his team are in charge of the artificial snow needed for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, set to start on Feb. 4.

Beijing and the mountains to its north — where some of the events, including skiing and snowboarding, will be held — are notoriously arid and see very little snowfall in winter. Moreover, temperatures in February could rise below freezing, and there’s a risk of storms that will dust the top layer of snow in sand. As a result, the Beijing games will rely entirely on artificial snow.

As global snow coverage declines due to climate change, more winter sports events are adopting artificial snow. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, host city Vancouver experienced an unusually warm winter that forced organizers to bring in artificial snow. The Games in Russia’s Sochi and South Korea’s Pyeongchang also could not rely on natural snow.