With warming temperatures, it is estimated that the average snowfall will fall in the northwest Pacific region by 2100 – and faster if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, according to a new study from Portland State University.
Researchers at the PSU Climate Lab ̵
Catalano stated that the calculation of changes in sites used to monitor snowfall in the mountainous northwest may provide information in rocks appropriate for those observations and management of water resources.
In the northwest, the snowpack acts as a natural reservoir, recharges groundwater and supplies water during the drier summer months. Snowfall affects water supply, which can affect agriculture, floods in winter and recreational activities such as skiing and boating.
"In these snow-dominated areas, there will be an increase in the percentage of rain that falls as rain," Catalano said. "This gives us an idea of the site-specific changes in time and space, what is happening in this region and what we can expect to see on average in terms of snow versus rainy days in time."
Among the research findings published in the magazine Geophysical Research Letters:
- By the end of the 21st century, over 90% of SNOTEL stations in the Northwest will continue to receive snow, but many of these places will survive more than half of the wet days as rain, meaning that more precipitation will fall as rain there is snow.
- The frequency of snowfall is greatest in low- and mid-altitude places such as the Cascades
Catalano said global efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions could slow the rate of decline. In practice, at all stations, emissions from normal business would lead to a faster rate of decline during the second half of the 21st century, while mitigation of emissions leads to slower rates.
"The overall frequency of snowfall will still decrease, but at a slower rate," Catalano said.
Years of low snow back to back will become more frequent, learning projects
A. J. Catalano et al., Spatiotemporal Variability of Twenty-First Century Changes in Frequency of Snowfall Specific to the Site Over the Northwestern States, Geophysical Research Letters (2019). DOI: 10.1029 / 2019GL084401
Portland State University
Snowfall Frequency Declines in Northwest, Surveys (2019, September 3)
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