Changing snowfall patterns predicted

Feb. 22, 2013 at 4:51 PM

PRINCETON, N.J., Feb. 22 (UPI) -- A new climate model predicts more snowfall for Earth's polar regions and highest altitudes but less overall for the world, U.S. researchers say.

The projections are the result of a climate model developed at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J.

The model suggests the majority of the planet would experience less snowfall as a result of warming due to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a decline that could spell trouble for regions such as the western United States that rely on snowmelt as a source of fresh water.

Scientists at Princeton University who have been analyzing the model said the greatest reductions in snowfall in North America would occur along the northeast coast, in the mountainous west, and in the Pacific Northwest.

They said snowfall will increase in very cold regions of the globe because as air warms it can hold more moisture, leading to increased precipitation in the form of snow.

Regions in and around the arctic and Antarctica will get more snow than they now receive, they said in a Princeton release Friday.

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