Global climate change

Climate change unlikely to have much influence on the occurrence of extreme Northeast U.S. snowstorms

By Brett Anderson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
1/29/2019, 11:29:39 AM

New research from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has concluded that climate change will have little impact on the number of of major Northeast United States snowstorms the rest of this century.

However, the study also determined that climate change will significantly diminish the number of smaller snowstorms (several inches or less) by late century.

Key excerpt from the NCAR/UCAR News report....

"What this research finds is almost all of the decrease in snow occurs in weaker, more nuisance-type events," said atmospheric scientist Colin Zarzycki, the author of the study. "The really crippling storms that have major regional impacts on transportation, on the economy, on infrastructure are not significantly mitigated in a warming climate."

The study used an existing set of advanced computer simulations of climate conditions to reach the conclusions.


The results of the study showed the following.......

1. Moderate nor'easters will decline sharply over the next few decades and be twice as rare by the late century.

2. The number of powerful nor'easters, which are much more rare than moderate nor'easters, will remain nearly unchanged.

Key factors to this conclusion......

1. Warmer, shorter snow season in the Northeast U.S.

2. Warmer atmosphere (due to climate change) is able to hold more water.

3. Warmer ocean (added fuel for large storms).


"We'll have fewer storms overall in the future, but when the atmospheric conditions align, they'll still pack a wallop, with incredibly heavy snowfall rates," Zarzycki said.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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Global climate change