Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Global Warming To Squeeze Western Mountains Dry By 2050

Date:
February 17, 2004
Source:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Summary:
Global warming will diminish the amount of water stored as snow in the Western United States by up to 70 percent in the coastal mountains over the next 50 years, according to a new climate change model released here today.

SEATTLE -- Global warming will diminish the amount of water stored as snow in the Western United States by up to 70 percent in the coastal mountains over the next 50 years, according to a new climate change model released here today.

Related Articles


The reduction in Western mountain snow cover, from the Sierra Nevada range that feeds California in the south to the snowcapped volcanic peaks of the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest, will lead to increased fall and winter flooding, severe spring and summer drought that will play havoc with the West's agriculture, fisheries and hydropower industry.

"And this is a best case scenario," said the forecast's chief modeler, L. Ruby Leung, a staff scientist at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. Leung delivered the sobering report at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, and the full results of her study will appear soon in the journal Climatic Change, now in press.

Leung emphasized the estimate's conservativeness, noting that the climate projections of warming devised by DOE and the National Center for Atmospheric Research are on the low end compared to most other models. Leung's clumping of the models is part of the DOE's Accelerated Climate Prediction Initiative, or ACPI.

ACPI assumes a 1 percent annual increase in the rate of greenhouse gas concentrations through the year 2100, for little change in precipitation and an average temperature increase of 1.5 to 2 degrees centigrade at least through the middle of 21st century. The result: more winter precipitation falling as rain instead of snow, two-tenths of an inch to more than half an inch a day, pushing the snowline in the mountains up from 3,000 feet to higher than 4,000 feet.

Where we now have snow in the mountains into April, "at mid-century snow will melt off much earlier than that," Leung said, noting research that shows in the past 50 years coastal mountain ranges have already lost 60 percent of their snowpack.

"The change in the timing of the water flow is not welcome," Leung said. "The rules we have now for managing dams and reservoirs and irrigation schedules cannot mitigate for the negative effects of climate change."

If this picture isn't bleak enough, Leung noted that the model does not even address the possibility of population growth and increased demand on water resources. Mountain streams supply power and drinking water to Seattle, Portland and the San Francisco Bay Area and points south in densely populated Northern California, and they feed the booming agricultural industries in the Columbia and Willamette valleys of Washington and Oregon and the San Joaquin Valley in California.

If there is any good news, it can be found farther east, in the Rockies. There, the winters are so much colder that small temperature increases have will have less effect on the snowpack, Leung said.

PNNL is a DOE Office of Science research center that advances the fundamental understanding of complex systems and provides science-based solutions in national security, energy, chemistry, the biological sciences and environmental quality. Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, has operated PNNL for DOE since 1965.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Global Warming To Squeeze Western Mountains Dry By 2050." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040217073823.htm>.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. (2004, February 17). Global Warming To Squeeze Western Mountains Dry By 2050. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040217073823.htm
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Global Warming To Squeeze Western Mountains Dry By 2050." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040217073823.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins