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Snowfall decreases in Northwest, research reveals



  Snowfall
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

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 ̵

1; doctoral student Arielle Catalano, geography professor and climate scientist Paul Loykit and student Christina Aragon – looked at the predicted change in the number of snow days compared to the rainy days at 157 SNOTEL stations in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. SNOTEL or the Snowpack telemetry network are often used to monitor the availability of water in mountainous areas and provide a base for monitoring snowfall. Using climate model forecasts, changes in the ratio of snow days to rainy days are estimated from observations of these stations.

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


More information:
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

Provided by
Portland State University
Reference :
Snowfall Frequency Declines in Northwest, Surveys (2019, September 3)
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from https://phys.org/news/2019-09-snowfall-frequency-declining-northwest.html

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