Mountain Snowpack Response to Different Levels of Warming. Huning, L. S. & AghaKouchak, A. 115(43):10932–10937.
Mountain Snowpack Response to Different Levels of Warming [link]Paper  doi  abstract   bibtex   
[Significance] Across the world, the seasonal montane snowpack stores and releases substantial amounts of water annually. As the global temperature is projected to rise, it becomes increasingly important to assess the vulnerability of the mountain snowpack. We therefore turn to the historical record to understand the extent to which snow water equivalent (SWE) and its centroid respond to different levels of warming. Using a probabilistic framework, we show that even a 1.0 or 2.0 °C increase in average temperature leads to approximately a 20 to 40\,% increase in the likelihood of below average SWE. We also quantify changes in the distribution of the amount of SWE and where it is stored elevationally across the mountain range given warmer winters. [Abstract] Temperature variability impacts the distribution and persistence of the mountain snowpack, which critically provides snowmelt-derived water resources to large populations worldwide. Warmer temperatures decrease the amount of montane snow water equivalent (SWE), forcing its center of mass to higher elevations. We use a unique multivariate probabilistic framework to quantify the response of the 1 April SWE volume and its centroid to a 1.0 to 2.0 °C increase in winter air temperature across the Sierra Nevada (United States). A 1.0 °C increase reduces the probability of exceeding the long-term (1985–2016) average rangewide SWE volume (15.7 km3) by 20.7\,%. It correspondingly is 60.6\,% more likely for the centroid to be higher than its long-term average (2,540 m). We further show that a 1.5 and 2.0 °C increase in the winter temperature reduces the probability of exceeding the long-term average SWE volume by 31.0\,% and 41.1\,%, respectively, whereas it becomes 79.3\,% and 89.8\,% more likely that the centroid will be higher than 2,540 m for those respective temperature changes. We also characterize regional variability across the Sierra Nevada and show that the northwestern and southeastern regions of the mountain range are 30.3\,% and 14.0\,% less likely to have 1 April SWE volumes exceed their long-term average for a 1.0 °C increase about their respective average winter temperatures. Overall, the SWE in the northern Sierra Nevada exhibits higher hydrologic vulnerability to warming than in the southern region. Given the expected increases in mountain temperatures, the observed rates of change in SWE are expected to intensify in the future.
@article{huningMountainSnowpackResponse2018,
  title = {Mountain Snowpack Response to Different Levels of Warming},
  author = {Huning, Laurie S. and AghaKouchak, Amir},
  date = {2018-10},
  journaltitle = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences},
  volume = {115},
  pages = {10932--10937},
  issn = {0027-8424},
  doi = {10.1073/pnas.1805953115},
  url = {https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1805953115},
  abstract = {[Significance] Across the world, the seasonal montane snowpack stores and releases substantial amounts of water annually. As the global temperature is projected to rise, it becomes increasingly important to assess the vulnerability of the mountain snowpack. We therefore turn to the historical record to understand the extent to which snow water equivalent (SWE) and its centroid respond to different levels of warming. Using a probabilistic framework, we show that even a 1.0 or 2.0 °C increase in average temperature leads to approximately a 20 to 40\,\% increase in the likelihood of below average SWE. We also quantify changes in the distribution of the amount of SWE and where it is stored elevationally across the mountain range given warmer winters.

[Abstract] Temperature variability impacts the distribution and persistence of the mountain snowpack, which critically provides snowmelt-derived water resources to large populations worldwide. Warmer temperatures decrease the amount of montane snow water equivalent (SWE), forcing its center of mass to higher elevations. We use a unique multivariate probabilistic framework to quantify the response of the 1 April SWE volume and its centroid to a 1.0 to 2.0 °C increase in winter air temperature across the Sierra Nevada (United States). A 1.0 °C increase reduces the probability of exceeding the long-term (1985–2016) average rangewide SWE volume (15.7 km3) by 20.7\,\%. It correspondingly is 60.6\,\% more likely for the centroid to be higher than its long-term average (2,540 m). We further show that a 1.5 and 2.0 °C increase in the winter temperature reduces the probability of exceeding the long-term average SWE volume by 31.0\,\% and 41.1\,\%, respectively, whereas it becomes 79.3\,\% and 89.8\,\% more likely that the centroid will be higher than 2,540 m for those respective temperature changes. We also characterize regional variability across the Sierra Nevada and show that the northwestern and southeastern regions of the mountain range are 30.3\,\% and 14.0\,\% less likely to have 1 April SWE volumes exceed their long-term average for a 1.0 °C increase about their respective average winter temperatures. Overall, the SWE in the northern Sierra Nevada exhibits higher hydrologic vulnerability to warming than in the southern region. Given the expected increases in mountain temperatures, the observed rates of change in SWE are expected to intensify in the future.},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-14648283,climate-change,global-warming,mountainous-areas,snow,temperature,vulnerability,water-resources},
  number = {43}
}
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