Each snowflake is unique. A lack of them creates an identical problem for many ski resorts. They rely increasingly on snow-making machines. The crystals made from water and compressed air cover the rocky, brown patches that would otherwise close the slopes.

Snow cover has been declining at an average rate of five days per decade in the northern hemisphere. Climate models suggest worse is to come. Much of the damage is caused by rain at lower altitudes. Higher up, the problem is increased melt.

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