BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Winter tourism's 2009/ 2010 season added over $250 million to Montana's economy, not to mention the over 4,500 folks employed in the industry.  So what happens when winters become warmer, we see shorter seasons and less snow?

"We've had something like 1.4 degrees of warming already and by this end of this century, we expect 5-7 degrees of additional warming," says University of Montana Regents Professor of Ecology Steve Running.

Running shared the Nobel Peace Prize for Climate.  He says climate models indicate our snow season will be about two months shorter in the next 90 years.  

"We will just barely have December and January that have some snowpack and by the time we're into mid February, the snow pack will be gone for the year," says Running.

Scientists say that translates to hardship for states like Montana that rely on winter tourism.

"By the end of this century, we will be a culture here that just doesn't have much of a winter sport infrastructure.  There just won't be many ski areas left," explains Running.

I wanted to see what business owners who rely on winter tourism think about projections for a shorter season so, I went to a Bozeman ski shop to find out more.

Employee and avid skier Stu Lange was excited to show me the skis he's riding this year.  He's been skiing for almost 30 years.

"It seems like, in the last couple of years, that the winter has been taking its time getting to Montana, it seems to be coming a month late but it also seems to be staying a month longer," explains Lange.

That's why Lange says he's not worried about climate change.

"If people are patient and don't go out too early and get injured, I think the skiing is going to be great for the same amount of months," says Lange.

His boss Kevin Weisner's been in the business for nearly forty years.  He says he's seen his fair share of slow winters.

"We're snow farmers and that's what we do and it can be tough sometimes," says Weisner.

Weisner says fewer months of winter would be bad for business but he says he's confident the snow will come, no matter what.

"You'd have to cut back on everything.  You wouldn't buy as much...You can adjust, you just have to know that the snow is coming and that's the hardest part," says Weisner.

He says he's optimistic about climate change and hopes warmer weather with temperatures closer to 32 will bring more snow, not less.