Scottish ski industry could disappear due to global warming, warns Met Office
The country's five resorts are currently enjoying exceptional conditions after heavy snowfall in the Highlands, but climate change may mean they have less than 50 years of ski-ing left.
Alex Hill, chief government advisor with the Met Office, said the amount of snow in the Scottish mountains had been decreasing for the last 40 years and there was no reason for the decline to stop.
He added: "Put it this way, I will not be investing in the ski-ing industry. Will there be a ski industry in Scotland in 50 years' time? Very unlikely."
It was -18C in Aviemore this week - the coldest night of the year in the UK - but Met Office climate predictions suggest that by 2080 the average winter night-time temperature in the Highlands will be 2C - four degrees higher than the current average of -2C.
An analysis of the past four decades shows that snowy days in the UK are down by a third, and the number of frosty days has declined by 26 per cent.
Mr Hill added that the current spell of wintry weather across the UK did not contradict theories of climate change.
"There is a difference between weather and climate," he said. "It's about separating out what is weather and what is climate, what's happening in the square metre above your head - or even a country the size of Scotland - from the huge climatic changes covering vast areas of ocean and continents.
"Climate change doesn't mean there won't be snowfall. It just means it won't happen as often or with as much of it."
However, Tania Alliod, marketing manager for Cairngorm Mountain ski resort, said she believed there could still be a ski industry north of the border in 50 years.