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Earth Science Technology

How Russia Transformed a Subtropical Beach Resort To Host the Winter Olympics 359

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Duncan Geere reports at The Verge that Russian resort as Sochi, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, is humid and subtropical with temperatures averaging about 52 degrees Fahrenheit (12 C) in the winter, and 75 degrees (24 C) in the summer. "There is almost no snow here — at the moment it's raining," says Olga Mironova, a local resident. It's estimated that the cost of staging the Olympics in Sochi has been greater than the previous three Winter Games combined — ballooning to a whopping $51 billion including the cost of implementing an extensive system of safeguards to ensure there'll be sufficient snow in Sochi for the games including the cost of implementing one of the largest snowmaking systems in Europe. The system includes two huge water reservoirs that feed 400 snow cannons installed along the slopes that can generate snow in temperatures of up to 60 degrees fahrenheit (16 C). If that snow isn't enough, then the authorities will fall back on 710,000 cubic meters of snow collected during the winters of previous years leading up to the games. To keep it from melting in the region's hot summers, 10 separate stockpiles have been kept packed tight under insulating covers high up in the mountains, safe from the sun's rays. Down in Sochi itself the other half of the games will be held in five indoor arenas that will host figure skating, speed skating, hockey, and curling, and an additional outdoor area will host the opening and closing ceremonies. In each of these indoor arenas, underfloor cooling systems are installed so that the ice stays frozen above it using propylene glycol, which doesn't freeze until temperatures reach 8.6 F (-13 C). Climatologists predict that even under a best-case scenario, almost half the venues that have hosted the Winter Olympics over the last century would be unable to do so by 2080 without resorting to extensive and expensive artificial snowmaking techniques.""
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How Russia Transformed a Subtropical Beach Resort To Host the Winter Olympics

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  • Re:!Subtropical. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 10, 2014 @09:39AM (#46209317)

    43.5 degrees N (more northerly than Buffalo, NY) is not "subtropical."

    The word "subtropics" refers to a particular location. The word "subtropical" can refer to any area that has characteristics similar to the subtropics.


    Hey lookie there: Eurasia -> Russia -> Sochi

  • Re:Celsius (Score:5, Informative)

    by the_cosmocat ( 1009803 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @09:53AM (#46209409)
    Yes, it's time to give up! http://imgur.com/3ZidINK [imgur.com] and to use the metric system also : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]
  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @10:05AM (#46209495)

    While the indoor activities may well be in the City of Sochi, the activities which actually requires a large amount of snow (alpine and nordic) are actually arranged in Rosa Khutor [wikipedia.org], which may only be 50 km away, but happens to be approximately 1000 meters above sea level, something which does have an impact on the climate.

    There may be lots of things wrong with these Olympics, but there is no need to exaggerate.

  • Re:Stupid (Score:4, Informative)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @10:12AM (#46209537) Homepage
    Well,at 43 degrees, it sits right about the same latitude as Toronto, a few degrees north of Salt lake City, a bit south of Vancouver, and a bit south of Turin (the last 3 of which also hosted the Olympics). Latitude really says very little about climate, especially when you are close to the ocean, or other very large bodies of water like the Black Sea. Toronto's weather is actually quite cold, and the only reason they couldn't host the winter Olympics is the lack of mountains. Vancouver, despite being north Toronto, actually has quite warmer weather.

    The next one around is in South Korea at 37 degrees latitude, and seems to be close to the ocean, although just about everything is close to the ocean in South Korea, by the standards of someone who lives in Canada. It seems their goal is to host the Winter Olympics in increasingly ridiculous climates, eventually to the point of getting the Winter Olympics in Dubai.
  • Re:Celsius (Score:4, Informative)

    by kbg ( 241421 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @10:16AM (#46209559)

    The Metric Conversion Act [wikipedia.org] would disagree with you.

  • by oneiron ( 716313 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @10:29AM (#46209629)
    The Greater Caucasus Mountains where the Olympics are being held receive as much snowfall as any major ski resort in the US. It's just a bad year for them...sort of like Vancouver 4 years ago. I really don't understand the "subtropical" knock that everyone keeps repeating. This is a huge mountain range that gets tons of snow every year. Not considering climate change, the facilities they've built in the mountains will probably serve as a very nice ski resort after the olympics...
  • Re:Stupid (Score:4, Informative)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @11:08AM (#46209825) Homepage
    Also worth mentioning that there probably aren't that many ski resorts out there that don't use artificial snow. Whether it's to have the hill open in November, or just to make sure the base of the mountain is well covered. Artificial snow also provides a really good, solid base that will allow the resort to stay open longer into the spring as well. Perhaps up in the Alps such measures are not needed, because the snow doesn't melt in the sumer, but most places that I've been to use snow making equipment because just getting enough snow on the hill to handle the amount of traffic (skiing on show will push it to the sides of the hill), and to cover up rocks, requires that artificial snow will be used.
  • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Informative)

    by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @02:29PM (#46211207)

    I did highschool physics in Europe with SI units...But oh, the horrors whenever, we saw a page from an American physics book :)
    More than half the book was about unit translation... it's convenient have kilograms, meters match up with the gravitational constant.

    I studied physics in the US -- both at high school and university level -- and I can tell you that nobody actually does physics using US units. Typically an introductory course will include an early segment on converting to and from metric, but the students can generally forget all about it because the coursework will all be in SI units.

    I've seen a couple old textbooks where the authors seemed to get a kick out of forcing people to convert back and forth (exercises would include mixed units), but I've never seen a book or a class in the last 20 years that did that beyond some initial work on making sure that the students know how to convert between units.

System checkpoint complete.