Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate Modelers See Warmer, Wetter Northeast Winters

14.12.2012
Winter contracting, snow season expected to be shorter

A new high-resolution climate study by University of Massachusetts Amherst climate scientists, the first to apply regional climate models to examine likely near-term changes in temperature and precipitation across the Northeast United States, suggests temperatures are going to be significantly warmer in all seasons in the next 30 years, especially in winter. Also, they project that winters will be wetter, with more rain likely than snow.

Writing in the current issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research, Michael Rawlins and Raymond Bradley of the Climate System Research Center at UMass Amherst, with Henry Diaz of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Diagnostics Center, Boulder, Colo., provide the highest resolution climate projections to date for the Northeast from Pennsylvania to Maine for the period 2041 to 2070. The study used data from multiple climate model simulations run at greatly improved resolution.

Rawlins says, “One of the most important aspects of our study is that we can now examine in more detail what’s likely to occur across the region with a grid size of approximately 31 x 31 miles (50 x 50 km). Previous studies used much more coarse-scale general circulation model data. This represents a significant step forward.”

Bradley adds, “Regional climate models have been around for a while, but they have not been applied specifically to the Northeast region. At this point what we can provide are ‘broad brush’ estimates of how things will change over the next 30 to 50 years. People should not over-interpret these results. Further research is needed to scale these down to individual locations. But for natural resource conservation managers, water resource managers and others responsible for planning ahead, we expect our region-specific results will be helpful.”

Overall, the researchers say the region is projected to warm by some 2 to 3 degrees Celsius by mid-century, with local changes approaching 3.5 degrees C in winter. Precipitation will go up as well, particularly in winter, but again not uniformly across the Northeast. The UMass Amherst climate scientists say confidence in the precipitation change projections for spring, summer and autumn is lower, given smaller changes relative to natural weather variability.

“The only clear signal of change for precipitation is noted in winter, which appears to be heading toward wetter conditions, consistent with current trends,” Rawlins says. Winter precipitation is projected to rise significantly above natural weather variability, around 12 to 15 percent greater from southwest Pennsylvania to northern Maine, with the exception of coastal areas, where projected increases are lower.

“But we shouldn’t expect more total seasonal snowfall,” he adds. “Combined with the model-projected temperature trends, much of the increase will occur as rain. We’re losing the snow season. It is contracting, with more rain in early and late winter.”

For this study funded by NOAA, Rawlins and Bradley used available outputs from an ensemble of regional climate models (RCM) from the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program to look at potential changes in seasonal air temperature and precipitation between the present (1971 to 2000), and a future period (2041 to 2070) across the Northeast. They performed a rigorous evaluation of each model’s ability to represent current climate by comparing its outputs to actual weather station data.

The projections assume that greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise, increasing atmospheric CO2 from about 400 parts per million (ppm) today to between 500 and 600 ppm in 2070. Bradley and Rawlins acknowledge that this outlook represents the “most aggressive, most troubling higher emissions trajectory scenario” for CO2 levels, but they point out that so far there is little evidence that society will act to appreciably change the current rate of increase.

Each of the five RCMs were forced with data from two general circulation models (GCM), yielding nine GCM-RCM simulations. This provided a rich suite of data for climate change analysis, the scientists say. GCM forcings are applied at the boundaries of the North American region, with RCMs then taking over, resulting in much higher-resolution depictions of precipitation and air temperature than would have been possible using the GCMs alone.

Results show statistically significant increases in air temperature region-wide for every grid in each season, but the changes are not uniform. For example, the models collectively project air temperature changes in winter of more than 3 degrees C (5.5 degrees F) across northern Maine, all of New Hampshire, Vermont and the Adirondacks, representing about 50 percent of the Northeast region. In some local areas, the increase could be near 4 degrees C (7.2 degrees F).

By contrast, winter air temperature increases in southwest Pennsylvania are projected to be lower, only about 2.4 degrees C. In summer, the pattern is reversed and the southwest quadrant of the northeast is projected to be warmer and the changes higher.

Abstract available: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2012/2012JD018137.shtml

Michael Rawlins | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.geo.umass.edu
http://www.agu.org

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas
19.07.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht NSF-supported researchers to present new results on hurricanes and other extreme events
19.07.2018 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>