New Research Finds A 41% Drop in Average Snowfall Since 1982

New Research Finds A 41% Drop in Average Snowfall Since 1982


New Research Finds A 41% Drop in Average Snowfall Since 1982


Research just published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters is showing the effects of climate change on the American ski industry.

According to the research, the amount of snow in the western United States has seen an average drop of 41 percent since the early 1980s. As a result, the snow season has shrunk by 34 days.

Snowpack Change From 1982 to 2016 Over Conterminous United States

“Snow is one of the most important wintertime land surface characteristics and is crucial for water resources over western United States. However, regional snow mass variability and its drivers remain uncertain. Based on our recently developed high‐quality gridded snow mass product, here, for the first time, we quantify and understand the snowpack change from 1982 to 2016 over conterminous United States (ConUS) at 4‐km pixels. Annual maximum snow mass decreases significantly by 41% on average for 13% of snowy pixels over the western United States (or the size of South Carolina). Over ConUS, snow season was shortened significantly by 34 days on average for 9% of the snowy pixels (or the size of Virginia). October–March mean temperature and accumulated precipitation largely explain the temporal variability of 1 April snow mass over western United States, and considering temperature alone would exaggerate the warming effect on the snow decrease. For the snowpack projection in the next few decades over United States to be reliable, Earth system models need to demonstrate their capability in reproducing historical snowpack variabilities and trends and their different relations with temperature and precipitation over western versus eastern ConUS, as reported here.”

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