Global warming: New model helps pinpoint snowfall changes

Polar regions to see more snow; reductions expected most other areas

A new climate model helps pinpoint changes in snowfall due to global warming.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A new climate model suggests snowfall is likely to decline by up to 30 percent in the Colorado mountains, and by up to 50 to 80 percent in other regions of the country.

Most of the globe will see significant reductions in snowfall if atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide continue to increase. Only the polar regions and a few isolated mountain areas are likely to see more snow, according to scientists with the Geo­phys­i­cal Fluid Dynam­ics Lab­o­ra­tory and Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity who analyzed the data.

Car­bon diox­ide has already increased by 40 per­cent from mid-19th century levels. At the current rate of emissions, those levels are likely to double before the end of the 21st century.

Up to know, many models have struggled to consistently predict global warming impacts to snowfall trends in mountain areas. It’s clear that snowfall will decrease in marginal areas because it will simply be too warm to snow much of the time.

The new modeling tool incorporates more site-specific and detailed information, especially with regard to topography — a key factor that drives snowfall at the local and regional level. With that information, researchers have a high-definition model of the climate instead of a grainy, wide-angle view.

The new projections could help inform planners and decision-makers in mountain communities dependent on ski-related tourism, as well as resource managers trying to ensure long-term water supplies.

Based on the new projections, the northeast coast, western mountains and the Pacific Northwest will see the biggest drop in snowfall. Some areas, including the East Coast from Virginia to Maine, are likely to see their seasonal snow totals cut in half. The continental interior experiences fewer reductions in snowfall. The only part of  the U.S. where snowfall will increase is Alaska.

The first model runs focused on mean annual snow variables, but the formula may also help understand coming changes in extreme snowfall events, as well as the frequency of snow storms and changes in seasonality.

The study was con­ducted by Sarah Kap­nick, a post­doc­toral research sci­en­tist in the Pro­gram in Atmos­pheric and Oceanic Sci­ences at Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity and jointly affil­i­ated with NOAA’s Geo­phys­i­cal Fluid Dynam­ics Lab­o­ra­tory in Prince­ton, and Thomas Del­worth, senior phys­i­cal sci­en­tist at GFDL.







9 thoughts on “Global warming: New model helps pinpoint snowfall changes

    1. I take it you’re a gambling man. You know the old saw: “The only way to win at gambling is to own the casino.” You don’t own the planet, do you? You can take that however you want.

  1. This is interesting, but incomplete. What is needed is an analysis of the changes in precipitation, in all forms. We need to understand what areas are likely to see a raising or lowering of overall annual precipitation. What farm areas will impacted? How will crop selection be affected? How will river flow and levels be affected? How will aquifer replenishment be affected? etc.

    1. Read the image. It gives you the trend. You can pretty accurately guesstimate the effects on flora and fauna by looking at comparable areas elsewhere on the planet.

  2. Its another forecast nothing more. How many of the AGW forecasts have panned out anyway? None. Read Chompsy’s Manufacturing Consent. Government wants a carbon tax.

    1. I have nothing to add to someone who offers us Chomsky (and mispels the man’s name to boot.)

      Its like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

      Perhaps you should spend some time and actually read the work. (here is a link.)

  3. When the snow pack in the Rockies gets depleted and the rains fail to fall in the central US it will be the start of wide-spread desertification on the continent, just like in the Australian Out Back, the Gobi and the Sahara.

    There are already arid regions in the ‘States where it is happening. It’s not going to be good for the “corn basket” of the world any more that it was for the “wheat basket” of the world under Stain.

    It looks good for Canada though. 🙂

    More, but merely annual, snow in the circumpolar regions is a direct consequence of global warming, wether its anthropogenic or not.

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