UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center partners with Palisades Tahoe and POW to promote ways we can #SaveOurSnow

The UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) has partnered with BrandXR, Palisades Tahoe, and Protect Our Winters on an educational campaign to increase public awareness and understanding of the negative effects of climate change to Lake Tahoe’s snow pack and the winter tourism industry. Designed to inspire people to take immediate action to reduce their own carbon emissions by one ton per year and prevent the worst scenario from playing out, the campaign includes a carbon reduction calculator, easy actions individuals can take to #SaveOurSnow, and an augmented reality Instagram filter.

Climate change and the reduction of snowpack isn’t just a Palisades Tahoe issue. It isn’t even just a Tahoe-specific issue or a ski industry issue—it’s much larger than that and affects everything from wildfire to freshwater sources communities drink from.

UC Davis TERC researchers utilized Global Climate Models (GCMs) to develop projections of expected snowpack in the future. The model results were downscaled to adapt them to Lake Tahoe and applied to the Tahoe Watershed Model. TERC has been at the forefront of scientific research and ecosystem health monitoring in the greater Lake Tahoe region for the last 60 years, with focus on water quality, ecology, physical processes, and meteorology.

“Climate change is evident in the long-term meteorological measurements at Lake Tahoe, with rising air temperatures and rain replacing snow,” said TERC Director Geoffrey Schladow. “Warmer temperatures, more rain, and less snow also limit the amount of seasonal snowpack. Climate models forecast dramatic reductions in the snowpack in the coming decades.”

UC Davis TERC’s education team is using the accessibility of social media to share these projections and start a conversation about local impacts of climate change. Augmented reality has the unique ability to place the user in alternate environments, from the fluffy, deep snow of past winters to an increasingly grim future for those who appreciate and understand the importance of snow. Because those who love the outdoors and recreate at ski resorts are especially passionate about snow, the intention is to encourage them to use their social influence to start a conversation about the easy ways individuals can combat climate change. TERC conducted a formative evaluation for user comprehension and shareability to achieve the greatest impact.

“Working in the field of environmental science and seeing climate projections can leave us with a sense of doom and gloom,” said Heather Segale, TERC education and outreach director. “It is within our power to reduce the rate of climate change. We can’t lose hope. If we all make more conscientious choices and take immediate action, it significantly increases the likelihood that our collective actions will create meaningful change to save our snow. Action is the only way we keep even worse things from happening.”

The “Save our Snow” Instagram filter developed by UC Davis and BrandXR shows how skiers and snowboarders will be impacted by climate change and illustrates the significant loss of local snowpack predicted if we continue business as usual. Historic snowpack recorded since 1954 from the California Department of Water Resources combined with predictions of a potentially snowless future highlight the urgent need to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

“We are proud to support UC Davis on such a critically important campaign,” said Moody Mattan, founder BrandXR. “We hope this augmented reality filter will help raise awareness about Lake Tahoe’s diminishing snowpack and make users aware of how climate change is impacting their skiing and snowboarding now and into the future.”

Palisades Tahoe and Protect Our Winters are collaborating with TERC on the Save Our Snow campaign by encouraging participation, offering giveaway prizes for those who take action and use the Instagram filter and carbon reduction pledge, and emphasizing easy carbon-reducing actions people can take in their daily lives like using the Mountaineer Shuttle, going meatless for a few meals, reducing waste, or line-drying clothing.

“Climate change has serious consequences for our industry, and that’s why we have been taking actions to minimize our own carbon footprint,” said Palisades Tahoe President and COO Dee Byrne. “We are happy to work with the UC Davis team to encourage everyone who loves winter to do their part to protect the environment we all love and recreate in.”

Scan code for SOS filter

Learn more at https://tahoe.ucdavis.edu/saveoursnow.