Snow water changes with elevation over the Western United States in IPCC AR4 models

Weare, Bryan; Blossier, Brice
June 2012
Climatic Change;Jun2012, Vol. 112 Issue 3/4, p1059
Academic Journal
This work analyzes variations of snow water with elevation for a group of AR4 models over the Western United States. The results are expressed in terms of both snow water equivalent (SWE), which is the depth of snow if melted, and snow water volume (SWV), which is the total volume of SWE for a specified region. The decrease in total SWV over the study region between 1905 and 25 and 1980-99 is about 22%, which is in the range of the observed values. The results for both the A1b and B1 scenarios for the middle twenty-first century both show a near total loss of SWE at lower elevations. However, the largest losses for SWV are near 1800 m. Furthermore, the total SWV loss for the A1b scenario is about 63%, whereas that for the more moderate B1 scenario is about 49%. Thus, a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is likely to reduce the loss of snow, which is vital to society in the dry Western United States.


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