April 1 snowpack accumulations measured at 311 snow courses in the western United States (U.S.) are grouped using a correlation-based cluster analysis. A conceptual snow accumulation and melt model and monthly temperature and precipitation for each cluster are used to estimate cluster-average April 1 snowpack. The conceptual snow model is subsequently used to estimate future snowpack by using changes in monthly temperature and precipitation simulated by the Canadian Centre for Climate Modeling and Analysis (CCC) and the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research (HADLEY) general circulation models (GCMs). Results for the CCC model indicate that although winter precipitation is estimated to increase in the future, increases in temperatures will result in large decreases in April 1 snowpack for the entire western US. Results for the HADLEY model also indicate large decreases in April 1 snowpack for most of the western US, but the decreases are not as severe as those estimated using the CCC simulations. Although snowpack conditions are estimated to decrease for most areas of the western US, both GCMs estimate a general increase in winter precipitation toward the latter half of the next century. Thus, water quantity may be increased in the western US; however, the timing of runoff will be altered because precipitation will more frequently occur as rain rather than as snow.
Additional publication details
General-circulation-model simulations of future snowpack in the western United States
American Water Resources Assoc
Herndon, VA, United States
Larger Work Title:
Journal of the American Water Resources Association