Consider snowpack variability in adaptation planning and climate change impact assessments, new study says

Climate science tells us that mountain snowpack is decreasing in the western United States due to anthropogenic climate change. Funded in part by CPO’s RISA Program, a new study examines changes in the variability of snowpack conditions between years, for historical and future climate scenarios. The paper, co-authored by Pacific Northwest RISA investigator John T. Abatzoglou, finds that “variability of annual maximum snowpack between years decreases while the timing of peak snow accumulation becomes more variable, particularly in areas transitioning from snow- to rain-dominated precipitation.” It also finds that, due to climate change, “consecutive years with very low or early snowpack will become much more frequent.”

View the paper in Geophysical Research Letters »




Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. In 2017, the United States experienced a record-tying 16 climate- and weather-related disasters where overall costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. Combined, these events claimed 362 lives, and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted, costing more than $306 billion. Businesses, policy leaders, resource managers and citizens are increasingly asking for information to help them address such challenges.


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