The experts forecast less snow before they retroactively forecast more snow.
Poor skiers in Austria and Switzerland to suffer the most.
In Switzerland, between 37 per cent and 56 per cent of the country’s ski resorts, including Wildhaus and Unterwasser, could soon have such low levels of snow that they may face “acute difficulties in attracting overseas tourists and local winter sports enthusiasts”, the study says.
“The impacts of climate change on winter tourism may be even more severe in countries such as Germany or Austria due to the lower altitudes of their ski resorts,” researchers say.
The internationally celebrated winter sports town of Kitzbuehl, for example, which is popular among the rich and famous and lies at an altitude of 760 metres, faces extinction as a top ski resort.
The study was published as nations were meeting for a United Nations conference on climate change in nearby Milan.
“Climate change in the form of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods and droughts, is the greatest challenge facing the world. Clearly it is the poorest of the poor on continents like Africa, Asia and Latin America who are at the greatest risk, who are the most vulnerable,” said UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer.
“But this study on winter sports shows that it is not just the developing world that will suffer. Even rich nations are facing potentially massive upheavals with significant economic, social and cultural implications,” Toepfer said.