Does artificial snow fertilise the soil of mountain meadows in the Krkonoše National Park?


  • Zdenka Křenová Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Bělidla 4a, CZ-60200 Brno, Czech Republic; Institute for Environmental Studies, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Benátská 2, CZ-12900 Prague, Czech Republic
  • Ondřej Bílek Geo Vision s.r.o., Brojova 2113/16, 326 00 Plzeň 2 – Slovany, Czech Republic
  • Vladimír Zýval Geo Vision s.r.o., Brojova 2113/16, 326 00 Plzeň 2 – Slovany, Czech Republic



artificial water reservoirs, climate change, management of protected areas, snow-making, water resources


There are no high mountains in the Czech Republic and only few of them are higher than 1500 m a.s.l. Nevertheless, skiing is one of the most popular winter sports in this country and has a long history and tradition. During the last two decades, climate change, big differences in snow cover from year to year and unusual warm winter periods causing the snow to melt resulted in visitors to Czech ski resorts going to the Alps. Managers of ski resorts facing this challenge recognised that artificial snow enables skiing throughout the entire season and overcomes the risk posed by climate to the skiing business. However, many ski resorts are located in protected areas and it is difficult to negotiate changes in the rules for preparing and applying artificial snow with conservationists, who are fearful of the negative effects of snowmaking on rare and protected species and habitats. This paper presents results of a case study conducted in the SkiResort ČERNÁ HORA – PEC in the Krkonoše National Park throughout the 2019 season. The seasonal changes in the water quality in two reservoirs and six creeks, from which water is used for making artificial snow, were determined in order to assess the risk of this snow adding fertiliser to the meadows on ski slopes. We found that the nutrients recorded in two reservoirs and six creeks were very low. Water quality parameters did not exceed the limits of permissible pollution of surface and drinking water. Several episodic increases in the parameters measured were recorded and the causes discussed. We did not measure the direct effects of artificial snow on grassland communities. However, the use of water from these reservoirs and creeks for snowmaking does not pose a significant risk in terms of adding fertiliser to the meadows on ski slopes. To eliminate these risks and unusual events, several management measures for improving the water regime in the area studied are proposed. To better understand the effect of artificial snow on mountain meadows, permanent plots and long-term monitoring of vegetation, soil invertebrates and soil chemistry are recommended.