Previous studies have predicted less and slower snowmelt in the northern United States and Canada because of climate change and warmer conditions. As mixed-phase precipitation is increasing in higher elevations, it is becoming more challenging to predict future snowmelt. Snowmelt is a dominant driver of severe flooding.
University of New Hampshire researcherscarefully studied previous data. They found out that as each geographical areas respond to climate change differently; future snowmelt incidences will vary greatly by the late 21st century. Snowmelt will decrease in U.S. and southern Canada and will increase in Alaska and northern Canada. This will create larger flooding vulnerabilities and will also cause major societal and economic consequences like expensive infrastructure failures.
This research paper has been published in Geophysical Research Letters. Professor Jennifer Jacobs said that information about future flood is very important for those planning future infrastructure.
The researchers studied previous predictions of change in snowpack and snowmelt. They have the goal of translating this information into valuable data that will be helpful for water resources managers and engineering designers in areas like Northern California and Canada.
The researchers also used historical maps and regional climate model simulations in their research. In West Coast Mountain areas, there is a huge risk of rain-on-snow flooding as these areas are warm and produce more rain. The warm areas will increase the melting of snowpacks and larger runoff will happen which will increase the flood risk.
But the scenario is totally different in extreme cold regions like Alaska and northern Canada. Researchers say, warmer temperatures in these areas will increase the opportunity for moisture which will make more snow.
A former UNH doctoral student, Eunsang Cho has said that these findings will help to develop and modify federal and state governments’ long-term policies for climate adaptation.