Case studies on Ice

Case study of tourism problems/management - Chamon

  • —  Chamonix, NW Alps, 15km from Swiss and Italian border.
  • —  Mont Blanc 4808m
  • —  10,000 population
  • —  100,000 a day in Summer
  • —  60,000 a day in winter
  • — Activities: Skiiing, Snowboarding,  Ice climbing, Paragliding, Two cross-country skiing courses,  Snowshoe trails Hotels, restaurants, swimming pools, spas, museums, historical buildings, Railway to Mer De Glace glacier,  Visit the ice caves, 350km of hiking trails, 40km of bike tracks,—  Rock climbing, Paragliding,—  Rafting,  Canyoning, Summer luging, Festivals 


  • —  Jobs- hotels, restaurants, guides, instructors, construction, maintenance
  • —  Money bought in supports local services and shops. Improved public transport and health care
  • —  Maintained as an attractive town by pedestrianisation and keeping it clean. 
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Chamonix (2)


  • —  Noisy at night
  • —  Congestion on small local roads
  • —  Footpaths become eroded
  • —  Cafes and shops become expensive hence out of price for the locals
  • —  Houses are expensive due to wealthy second home owners
  • —  Tension between tourists, some want peace and quiet whilst others want noise and parties
  • —  Animals get harmed by gates being left open or litter dropping 

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Chamonix (3)

 Managing tourism in Chamonix:

  • —  Keen to promote responsible tourism as a means of balancing the demands of tourism with the need to conserve and protect the environment.
  • The Chamonix municipality provides an environmentally friendly transport system with clean energy buses and free public transport
  • —  An initiative called Espace Mont-Blanc involves cooperation between France, Italy and Switzerland on issues of international transport, nature conservation, forests and water resources.
  •  A further initiative called Tomorrow’s Valley brings together the local community and tourist groups to plan for sustainable management (long lasting and non-harmful to the environment). 
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Chamonix (4)

—  Tomorrow’s Valley projects:

  • —  Burying electricity lines underground
  • —  Renovating and preserving historic buildings
  • —  Preserving wetlands and peat bogs
  • —  Minimising impact of skiing on the landscape by planting trees and using local building materials that blend in with the natural environment
  • —  Maintaining footpaths, cleaning rivers
  • —  Supporting local traditional employment ie farming.
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Cas study to show effect of reduced snowfall- abon

  • Snow melt is occurring- UN suggests in 30 years time the snowline will be 300m higher than today, forcing half the ski resorts in Europe to close.
  • Jobs would be lost, unemployment and economical hardship would occur. Switzerland would lose £1bn a year. Solutions:
  • Bus to higher resorts- 
  • Artificial snow canons (40% of snow in Italy is artificial!)-
  • Resorts must reinvent themselves-
  • Building new higher lifts and resorts (new lifts and cable cars are being constructed to open up the Gepatsch Glacier in Austria (of course the glaciers are also retreating)- 
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Abondance (2)

  • —   Abondance, Haute-Savoie, France
  • —  Lifts closed in 2007
  • —  Developing other winter sports, ski touring, snow-mobiling, snowshoeing, these require less snow
  • —  Develop summer programme of activities- water sports, mountain biking etc.
  • —  As low level resorts close pressure is put on the High Alps (an area of wilderness and wildlife), but tourism may damage the fragile environment by:
  • —  Road, hotel, ski lift construction
  • —  Trees would be cut down which would increase avalanche hazard
  • —  Mountain biking and skiing can erode the land
  • —  Noise and visual pollution may make the region unattractive
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Case study of Avalanches Kashmir and Europe

  • —  Kashmir, foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, February 2008
  • —  30 killed, buildings, homes buried
  • —  Cause was unusually heavy snowfall
  • —  300 killed in same region in 2005!

  •  —  Europe 2005-2006
  • —  49 killed in off-piste skiing
  • —  Cause was irregular weather patterns, fluctuating temperatures and variable amounts of rain and snow. 
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Case study of a glacier retreating- Athabasca glac

  • The Columbia Icefield in the Canadian Rockies covers an area of 325km2 straddling the Banff and Jasper National Parks. Most of the area is above 2600m above sea level and in places the depth reaches over 300m thick.
  • The Athabasca glacier is an outlet valley glacier, flowing from the Columbia icefield. It is 4 miles long, and on average one km wide. The Athabasca is retreating at an increasingly rapid rate, with an average of 1-3m per year.
  • As the glacier has retreated it has left behind a series of push moraines (marking seasonal advances in winter, following summer retreats). 
  • There are also recessional moraines beyond the present snout which help to map past movements. These recessional moraines built up during times when the glacier was stationary in its retreat.
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