Warmer, wetter winters seen for Northeast

Dec. 12, 2012 at 3:31 PM   |   Comments

AMHERST, Mass., Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Climate models suggest the U.S. Northeast will see significantly warmer and wetter winters in the next 30 years with rain more likely than snow, researchers say.

University of Massachusetts Amherst climate scientists said they base that prediction on a new high-resolution climate study that includes regional climate models.

The study used data from multiple climate model simulations, run at greatly improved resolution, to make climate projections for the Northeast from Pennsylvania to Maine.

"One of the most important aspects of our study is that we can now examine in more detail what's likely to occur across the region with a grid size of approximately 31 by 31 miles," UM researcher Michael Rawlings said in a university release Wednesday.

"Previous studies used much more coarse-scale general circulation model data. This represents a significant step forward."

The Northeast is projected to warm by some 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit by mid century, the researchers said, with local changes approaching 6 degrees in winter.

That will result in wetter winters, they said.

"But we shouldn't expect more total seasonal snowfall," Rawlins said. "Combined with the model-projected temperature trends, much of the increase will occur as rain. We're losing the snow season. It is contracting, with more rain in early and late winter."

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