May 26, 2016--Global warming: Spring snow a no-go? (Science Daily)

Spring snowpack, relied on by ski resorts and water managers throughout the Western United States, may be more vulnerable to a warming climate in coming decades, according to a new University of Utah study. The study, accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, models the year-to-year variability in precipitation and temperature in Utah's Wasatch Mountains and other ranges in the West. Jason Scalzitti, a graduate student in atmospheric sciences, and professors Court Strong and Adam Kochanski found that above a threshold elevation, the amount of spring snowpack is dependent more on the amount of precipitation in a year than the temperature. In other words, whether a year is wet matters more than if it's warm. But below that threshold, temperature matters more. By the end of the century, according to the study, that threshold will move uphill by around 800 feet in the Wasatch and more in the Sierra Nevada, Cascades and parts of the Rocky Mountains. "In the past we've thought mainly about total precipitation as an indicator of how good the ski season's going to be," says Strong. "As we move into the future, especially at elevations below the threshold, temperature increases in importance." To view the full article visit the Science Daily.