Effects of a warming climate on daily snowfall events in the Northern Hemisphere

James F. Danco, Anthony M. Deangelis, Bryan K. Raney, Anthony J. Broccoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Using simulations performed with 24 coupled atmosphere-ocean global climate models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), projections of Northern Hemisphere daily snowfall events under the RCP8.5 emissions scenario are analyzed for the periods of 2021-50 and 2071-2100 and compared to the historical period of 1971-2000. The overall frequency of daily snowfall events is simulated to decrease across much of the Northern Hemisphere, except at the highest latitudes such as northern Canada, northern Siberia, and Greenland. Seasonal redistributions of daily snowfall event frequency and average daily snowfall are also projected to occur in some regions. For example, large portions of the Northern Hemisphere, including much of Canada, Tibet, northern Scandinavia, northern Siberia, and Greenland, are projected to experience increases in average daily snowfall and event frequency in midwinter. But in warmer months, the regions with increased snowfall become fewer in number and are limited to northern Canada, northern Siberia, and Greenland. These simulations also show changes in the frequency distribution of daily snowfall event intensity, including an increase in heavier snowfall events even in some regions where the overall snowfall decreases. The projected changes in daily snowfall event frequency exhibit some dependence on the temperature biases of the individual models in certain regions and times of the year, with colder models typically toward the positive end of the distribution of event frequency changes and warmer models toward the negative end, particularly in regions near the transition zone between increasing and decreasing snowfall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6295-6318
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number17
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Climate change
  • Climate models
  • Climate prediction
  • Geographic location/entity
  • Model evaluation/performance
  • Models and modeling
  • Northern Hemisphere
  • Physical Meteorology and Climatology


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