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Winter sport Using snow machines to deal with climate change

Snow - becoming a rare commodity in the Alps as a result of climate change - has meant snowmaking has become a big business. Marvin Zilm’s photographs document how heavy construction machinery and a giant snow machine converted rugged landscapes in Zermatt into a ski paradise. 

It’s been almost 30 years since ski resorts in the Alps started using snow cannon. Environmentalists failed to block their use. 

There are now an estimated 19,000 snow cannon dotted around the Alps. These have an obvious disadvantage: they only work at sub-zero temperatures. But in Zermatt, a so-called “All Weather Snowmaker“ has been in operation since 2008 and can churn out snow even when it’s 30 degrees Celsius. It's the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Manufactured in Israel, it is 11 metres high, weighs 30 tons and was originally developed to cool South African diamond mines. It was discovered that the by-product was snow. That made it an obvious choice for industrial snowmaking in the Alps. 

The Zurich photographer's images show the workings of the machine. 

(Images: Marvin Zilm/13 Photo, Text: Andreas Keiser/swissinfo.ch)