The Effects of Climate Change on Seasonal Snowpack and the Hydrology of the Northeastern and Upper Midwest, U.S.
The potential effects of climate change on the snowpack of the Northeastern and Upper Midwest United States are assessed using statistically downscaled climate projections from an ensemble of ten climate models and a macro-scale hydrological model. Climate simulations for the region indicate warmer-than-normal temperatures and wetter conditions for the snow season (November through April) during the 21st century. However, despite projected increases in seasonal precipitation statistically significant negative trends in snow water equivalent (SWE) are found for the region. Snow cover is likely to migrate northward in the future as a result of warmer-than-present air temperatures with higher loss rates in northern latitudes and at high elevation. Decreases in future (2041-2095) snow cover in early spring will likely affect the timing of maximum spring peak streamflows, with earlier peaks predicted in more than 80% of the 124 basins studied.