40 Years of Surface Warming in the Northern US Rocky Mountains: Implications for Snowpack RetreatReportar como inadecuado




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The northern US Rocky Mountains are experiencing rapid warming. Combined analysis of Ground Temperature GT measurements at two high-fidelity boreholes with Surface Air Temperature SAT measurements near Helena Montana spanning the past 40 years indicate the northern US Rockies have warmed on average 0.12°C - 0.32°C-decade since 1975, at least a factor of ~5 higher than the predicted 500-year-average. Warming appears to be accelerating, with warming rates since 2013 4 - 7 times higher than the 40 year average. Though uncertainty exists, the most significant GT warming appears to occur at higher elevation. Warming estimates are consistent with modelling predictions, snowpack observations, and stream temperature studies, all suggesting rapid surface temperature change in this region during the past ~40 years. The analysis indicates GT warming measured at remote borehole sites is slightly lower than regional SAT measurements collected near urban environments. We associate the discrepancy between GT-SAT measurements to both anthropogenic effects urban development that increase warming at the nearest SAT measurement station and a 14-year period of anomalously low snowfall that reduces surface insulation and GT warming. Using a derived average forty-year surface warming rate of 0.22°C- decade and regional temperature-elevation trends, we calculate that the elevation of the winter freeze line during the three coldest months of the year December, January, and February in the northern US Rocky Mountains is retreating upward, on average, 33 m-decade. This implies a 21% reduction in freeze-line area since 1974. If this trend continues, we estimate that within the next 40 years by 2060, the total area where ground freeze occurs during the three coldest months of the year will be ~60% of 1974 values. Since GT measurements indicate accelerated warming, this may be an underestimate. The analysis has important implications for the snowpack-water budget for Montana and the northern US Rocky Mountains.

KEYWORDS

Climate Change, Montana, Rocky Mountains, Water, Temperature, Borehole, Snowpack

Cite this paper

Hornbach, M. , Richards, M. , Blackwell, D. , Mauroner, C. and Brokaw, C. 2016 40 Years of Surface Warming in the Northern US Rocky Mountains: Implications for Snowpack Retreat. American Journal of Climate Change, 5, 275-295. doi: 10.4236-ajcc.2016.52023.





Autor: Matthew J. Hornbach*, Maria Richards, David Blackwell, Cliff Mauroner, Casey Brokaw

Fuente: http://www.scirp.org/



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