Skip to main content
The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Future Decreases in Freezing Days across North America

Authors:

Michael Rawlins

Raymond Bradley

Henry Diaz

John Kimball

David Robinson

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
2016
Secondary Title:
Journal of Climate
ISSN:
0894-8755
DOI:
10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0802.1
Pages:
6923-6935
Volume:
29
Year:
2016
Date:
Jan-10-2016
URL:
http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0802.1

Abstract

This study used air temperatures from a suite of regional climate models participating in the North American Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP) together with two atmospheric reanalysis datasets to investigate changes in freezing days (defined as days with daily average temperature below freezing) likely to occur between 30-yr baseline (1971–2000) and midcentury (2041–70) periods across most of North America. Changes in NARCCAP ensemble mean winter temperature show a strong gradient with latitude, with warming of over 48C near Hudson Bay. The decline in freezing days ranges from less than 10 days across north-central Canada to nearly 90 days in the warmest areas of the continent that currently undergo seasonally freezing conditions. The area experiencing freezing days contracts by 0.9–1.0 3 106 km2 (5.7%–6.4% of the total area). Areas with mean annual temperature between 28 and 68C and a relatively low rate of change in climatological daily temperatures (,0.28C day2) near the time of spring thaw will encounter the greatest decreases in freezing days. Advances in the timing of spring thaw will exceed the delay in fall freeze across much of the United States, with the reverse pattern likely over most of Canada.