Scientists predict heavier snow in poles, but less globally

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 24, 2013 05:40 hrs

Washington, Feb 24 (IANS) There is likelihood of increased snowfall over the polar regions and the highest altitudes, but an overall drop in global snowfall, as carbon dioxide (CO2) levels rise over the next century, a new climate model suggests.

The projections are based on a new climate model developed at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab (GFDL), analysed by scientists at GFDL and Princeton University.

The model indicates that the majority of the planet would experience less snowfall as a result of warming due to a doubling of atmospheric CO2, the Journal of Climate reports.

Observations show that atmospheric CO2 has already increased by 40 percent from values in the mid-19th century, and, given projected trends, could exceed twice those values later this century, according to a Princeton statement.

The highest mountain peaks in the northwest Himalayas, the Andes and the Yukon region will also receive greater amounts of snowfall after CO2 doubles.

In North America, the greatest reductions in snowfall will occur along the northeast coast, in the mountainous west, and in the Pacific Northwest. In very cold regions of the globe, however, snowfall will rise because as air warms, it can hold more moisture, leading to increased precipitation in the form of snow.

The model is an improvement over previous models in that it utilises greater detail about the world's topography - the mountains, valleys and other features.

The study was conducted by Sarah Kapshynick, postdoctoral research scientist in the Programme in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at Princeton University and jointly affiliated with NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab in Princeton, and Thomas Delworth, senior physical scientist at GFDL.

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