Global warming has affected the small town of Mayrhofen drastically as the altering of its sensitive climate has proven to cause major environmental implications (IPCC, 2022; Hruby, 2020; Berwyn, 2018). Environmental effects such as the lessening of snowfall, the shortening of winter seasons, the warming of winter seasons, and increased glacial melt (Hruby, 2021; Berwyn, 2016; Schilly, 2015). Mayrhofen is changing (Hruby, 2020; Berwyn, 2018; Berwyn, 2016). With the town of Mayrhofen so reliant on tourism and skiing these changes are acting as a dagger for many local livelihoods and the economy as a whole (Hruby, 2020; Berwyn, 2018; Beryn, 2016). Slowly the dagger cuts away at what keeps Mayrhofen afloat economically (Groendhal, 2020; Gahleitner, 2018; Schilly, 2015). Less skiable days, less skiable terrain, and worse conditions, decrease Mayrhofen’s lucrativeness (Groendhal, 2020; Gahleitner, 2018; Schilly, 2015). Slowly but progressively each year the town succumbs to more losses (Groendhal, 2020; Gahleitner, 2018; Schilly, 2015). These negative changes to the environment of Mayrhofen, its people, and the economy will not be halted unless serious action is taken (Groendhal, 2020; Gahleitner, 2018; Schilly, 2015). 

Mayrhofen Region/Impacts of Climate Change

Mayrhofen and surrounding mountains

"Mayrhofen, Austria" by neiljs is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Mayrhofen is a town located deep in the Zillertal valley and is part of the state of Tyrol Austria (Mayrhofen, 2022; Savic, 2018; Young, 2013). It’s a relatively small town of roughly 4000 people (Aznations, 2022; Citypopulation, 2022). Surprisingly the town of Mayrhofen is considerably larger than the surrounding towns of the Zillertal valley (Mayrhofen, 2022; Aznations 2022; Citypopulation, 2022). Mayrhofen is surrounded by the Alps mountain range (Mayrhofen, 2022; Alpenwild, 2022). The town itself sits 2,077 feet above sea level but its surrounding mountains are much higher (Mayrhofen, 2022; Alpenwild, 2022;). The surrounding Zillertal Alps mountain range stretches up to 11,520 feet above sea level (Mayrhofen, 2022; Alpenwild, 2022).

Glacier Melting

"Athabascan Glacier melt creek" by thomas pix is marked with CC BY 2.0.

 Melt and an increase in temperature have already been studied and have proven to be a direct threat to Mayrhofen as a whole. One of the most threatening problems Mayrhofen faces at the moment is glacial depletion (IPCC, 2022; Copernicus, 2022; Vidal, 2014). Scientists predict that 92% of the glaciers in the Alps could be gone forever by the end of the century (IPCC, 2022; Copernicus, 2022; Vidal, 2014). An increase in climate of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer which is equivalent to 2 degrees Celsius has also already been collected (Hruby, 2020; IPCC, 2022; Copernicus, 2022; Vidal, 2014). Famous and popular skiing destinations could be lost including the famous Hintertux Glacier (IPCC, 2022; Copernicus, 2022; BBC, 2020; Vidal, 2014). The Hintertux Glacier is what allows for year-round skiing in Mayrhofen (Powderhounds, 2020; Copernicus, 2022; BBC, 2020). Having a ski mountain rideable 365 days a year allows for a constant stream of revenue and keeps a constant flow of ski tourism coming into town (IPCC, 2022; Copernicus, 2022; Vidal, 2014). With the skiable area/glacier getting smaller fewer people will be able to ride and less revenue will be secured (IPCC, 2022; Copernicus, 2022; Vidal, 2014). This affects the environment as well as the economy and locals of Mayrhofen (Groendhal, 2020; Gahleitner, 2018; Schilly, 2015). Another problem with Mayrohfen is the decreasing amount of yearly snowfall (Groendhal, 2020; Gahleitner, 2018; Schilly, 2015). This decrease is predominantly caused by an increase in temperature which also results in shorter winter seasons (Groendhal, 2020; Gahleitner, 2018; Schilly, 2015).

Impacts of Climate Change

Climate change has been reaping havoc on many essential environmental aspects of Mayrhofen and their depletion tends to have a trickle-down effect (Hruby, 2020; Berwyn, 2018; Beryn, 2016). The changes affect aspects of the environment, the economy, and the people of Mayrhofen (Hruby, 2020; Berwyn, 2018; Beryn, 2016). The fragility of Mayrhofen’s ecosystem is due to climate change and the parasitic relationship between the people of Mayrhofen and the usage of the natural world around them (Hruby, 2020; Berwyn, 2018; Beryn, 2016). This relationship coupled with the effects of climate change has only resulted in a downward spiral of negative environmental impacts (Hruby, 2020; Berwyn, 2018; Beryn, 2016). Implementing developments in the mountains for recreation and tourism increases vulnerability and contributes to climate change (Creamontblanc, 2022; IPCC 2022; Hruby, 2020). Deforestation often needed to increase the development of trails, lodges, and lifts is just another example of a contribution to negatively affecting the Mayrhofen ecosystem and increasing its vulnerability to climate change (IPCC, 2022; Guo, 2018; Beryn, 2016). There are also interactions with land use (IPCC, 2022; Guo, 2018; Beryn, 2016) For example, a decrease in forest cover can exacerbate the effects of rising temperatures (IPCC 2022; Guo, 2018). The environmental changes affect the landscape which in turn affects the number of people who visit, which affects the economy, which affects the people of Mayrhofen (IPCC, 2022; Guo, 2018; Beryn, 2016). For example, glaciers have been turning black (IPCC, 2022; Guo, 2018; Beryn, 2016). This coloration happens when airborne soot and other pollutants settle onto glaciers. The matter sticks in which increasing the absorption of heat from the sun (IPCC, 2022; Vidal, 2014). This also then increases the rate at which the glaciers will melt (IPCC, 2022; Vidal, 2014). Normally, white glaciers reflect the sun's light and help keep climates mild (IPCC, 2022; Vidal, 2014).


  • The implementation of snowmaking machines has increased snow production to combat the lessening of natural snow during the winter seasons (Hruby, 2021; Berwyn, 2016; Schilly, 2015). 
  • The covering of glaciers with tarps particularly the Hintertux Glacier has been pursued to reduce melt rate and reduce albedo (Hruby, 2021; Berwyn, 2016; Schilly, 2015).
  • Green energy alternatives have been implemented throughout the valley. For example solar panels (Hruby, 2021; Berwyn, 2016; Schilly, 2015). 
  • The restructuring of ski mountains into bike parks has kept money coming in and the economy from plummeting exponentially (Hruby, 2021; Berwyn, 2016; Schilly, 2015).   

Work Cited

(www.dw.com), D. (n.d.). Ski resorts cling on against climate change: DW: 12.01.2018. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.dw.com/en/ski-resorts-cling-on-against-climate-change/a-41972961

Alpine glaciers. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://climate.copernicus.eu/alpine-glaciers#:~:text=Extreme%20glacier%20melt%20in%20the%20European%20Alps,-Globally%2C%20glacier%20mass&text=On%20average%2C%20the%20observed%20Alpine,1.5%20m%20in%20ice%20thickness.

Ar6 synthesis report: Climate change 2022. (n.d.). Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-cycle/

Berwyn, B. (2020, December 07). In the mountains, climate change is disrupting everything, from how water flows to when plants flower. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://insideclimatenews.org/news/07102019/mountain-climate-change-disruption-glaciers-water-ecosystems-agriculture-plants-food/

Berwyn, B. (2020, November 30). Austria's treasured national resource, its glaciers, are melting fast. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://insideclimatenews.org/news/28042016/austria-glaciers-melting-fast-climate-change-global-warming-alps-pasterze/

Climate change and its impacts in the Alps: Crea Mont. (0001, January 01). Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://creamontblanc.org/en/climate-change-and-its-impacts-alps/

Climate change threatens 'most Alps glaciers'. (2020, December 07). Retrieved April 28, 2022, from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-55206215

Dwevedi, A. (n.d.). Mountain soils. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/mountain-soils

Etter, S., Addor, N., Huss, M., & Finger, D. (2017, September 12). Climate change impacts on future snow, ice and rain runoff in a Swiss mountain catchment using multi-dataset calibration. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214581817300447

Europe. (n.d.). Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.citypopulation.de/en/austria/tirol/schwaz/70920__mayrhofen/