Impacts of Projected Climate Change over the Lake Champlain Basin in Vermont
Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
The Lake Champlain basin is a critical ecological and socioeconomic resource of the northeastern United States and southern Quebec, Canada. While general circulation models (GCMs) provide an overview of climate change in the region, they lack the spatial and temporal resolution necessary to fully anticipate the effects of rising global temperatures associated with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. Observed trends in precipitation and temperature were assessed across the Lake Champlain basin to bridge the gap between global climate change and local impacts. Future shifts in precipitation and temperature were evaluated as well as derived indices, including maple syrup production, days above 32.2\textdegreeC (90\textdegreeF), and snowfall, relevant to managing the natural and human environments in the region. Four statistically downscaled, bias-corrected GCM simulations were evaluated from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) forced by two representative concentration pathways (RCPs) to sample the uncertainty in future climate simulations. Precipitation is projected to increase by between 9.1 and 12.8 mm yr-1 decade-1 during the twenty-first century while daily temperatures are projected to increase between 0.43\textdegree and 0.49\textdegreeC decade-1. Annual snowfall at six major ski resorts in the region is projected to decrease between 46.9% and 52.4% by the late twenty-first century. In the month of July, the number of days above 32.2\textdegreeC in Burlington, Vermont, is projected to increase by over 10 days during the twenty-first century.