Effects of Climate Change on Wind-Driven Heavy-Snowfall Events over Eastern North America
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Effects of Climate Change on Wind-Driven Heavy-Snowfall Events over Eastern North America
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  • Source:
    Journal of Climate, 31(22), 9037-9054.
Filetype[PDF-3.57 MB]

  • Description:
    Eastern North America contains densely populated, highly developed areas, making winter storms with strong winds and high snowfall among the costliest storm types. For this reason, it is important to determine how the frequency of high-impact winter storms, specifically, those combining significant snowfall and winds, will change in this region under increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. This study uses a high-resolution coupled global climate model to simulate the changes in extreme winter conditions from the present climate to a future scenario with doubled CO2 concentrations (2XC). In particular, this study focuses on changes in high-snowfall, extreme-wind (HSEW) events, which are defined as the occurrence of 2-day snowfall and high winds exceeding thresholds based on extreme values from the control simulation, where greenhouse gas concentrations remain fixed. Mean snowfall consistently decreases across the entire region, but extreme snowfall shows a more inconsistent pattern, with some areas experiencing increases in the frequency of extreme-snowfall events. Extreme-wind events show relatively small changes in frequency with 2XC, with the exception of high-elevation areas where there are large decreases in frequency. As a result of combined changes in wind and snowfall, HSEW events decrease in frequency in the 2XC simulation for much of eastern North America. Changes in the number of HSEW events in the 2XC environment are driven mainly by changes in the frequency of extreme-snowfall events, with most of the region experiencing decreases in event frequency, except for certain inland areas at higher latitudes.
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