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N America Snow coverage since 1967 graphed

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I was curious.  Is snow coverage increasing or decreasing in N. America.  I know there a lot of dire predictions out there concerning the future of our sport, considering global warming models made by scientists. 

 

Rutugers U apparently does the definitive data tracking of snow coverage on a monthly basis.  Coverage = Extent.

http://climate.rutgers.edu/snowcover/table_area.php?ui_set=1&ui_sort=1

 

I grabbed the N America minus Greenland numbers (we don't ski much there) and imported Jan/Feb into excel and then created a graph of the Jan/Feb average from 1967, which is the earliest data that is available.  (I couldn't add March because the free version of  OutWit Hub which I used to grab the number from the web page only allows a limited amount of data imported)

 

The trend is up since 1967 - that's the solid black line.  The blue line is the Jan/Feb average million sq km  for each year.  The black squiggly line is the 5 year moving average, which has been on a solid uptrend the past 10 years. 

 

n_am_janfeb_snow_extent.tif

post #2 of 28
Thread Starter 

For you euro skiers, here is the same Jan/Feb ave snow extent for EurAsia.  I don't know where to get the Europe only data.

In Eurasia the trend is down overall since 1967, but we the trend is up the past 10 years.

 

eurasia_janfeb_snow_extent.tif

post #3 of 28

Great post,  thanks!

 

What about Australia,   ok I know who cares!

 

Richo

post #4 of 28

Interesting charts. It's funny how when you're a kid, science is all hard facts. Not so much as an adult.

 

I'm also all about the Rutgers mention. Always interesting to see your school mentioned for something you didn't even know it did.

post #5 of 28

We know that warm air carries more moisture.  Snow fall may increase as a result of warming.  In the east I have noticed good snowfall, but it melts sooner.

 

post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 

In actuality, Dec-Feb Winter temperatures, according to NOAA US ground stations thermometers, are trending down the past 20 yrs. With the last 4 winters being below average, So I don't think the above average US snowfall the last couple years is from increased winter temperatures.  Anyway, not tying to get into a political discussion (as opposed to factual science).  Just pointing out that even though we have people running around worrying about the future of skiing, the data shows no sign of our sport melting away.

 

 

temperature.tif

 

 

post #7 of 28

SnowbirdDevotee, I hope you don't mind that I made this thread into an Article, which I filed in the History section: http://www.epicski.com/a/northern-hemisphere-snow-statistics-since-1967

post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 

Let's look a little closer at "our" winter states - of Utah, Colorado and Montana.  A few years ago, there was some justifyable worry about skiing, because we had some poor below ave snowfall  winters.  But during the past 5 yrs, the trend, for whatever reason, has readjusted itself and the past few winters have been colder than average, bringing the Winter temp average into a general downtrend over the past 20 yrs.  (although likely statistically insignificant)

 

co_winter.tif

 

 

mt_winter.tif

 

utah_winter.tif

post #9 of 28



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowbirdDevotee View Post

In actuality, Dec-Feb Winter temperatures, according to NOAA US ground stations thermometers, are trending down the past 20 yrs. With the last 4 winters being below average, So I don't think the above average US snowfall the last couple years is from increased winter temperatures.  Anyway, not tying to get into a political discussion (as opposed to factual science).  Just pointing out that even though we have people running around worrying about the future of skiing, the data shows no sign of our sport melting away.

 

  

 



 My primitive observation says snow fall amounts on the East Coast have been influenced by warm, moist air.  We've had some great storms.  But it has been warmer.  In Southern Vermont, they just can't seem to hold the snow.

 

I also don't want the discussion to go political.  But I am concerned about future weather.

post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 

Originally Posted by Paul Jones View Post

My primitive observation says snow fall amounts on the East Coast have been influenced by warm, moist air.  We've had some great storms.  But it has been warmer.  In Southern Vermont, they just can't seem to hold the snow.

 

I also don't want the discussion to go political.  But I am concerned about future weather.

Agreed!  We know we have plenty of crooks in "politics".   It can get REAL stupid when politics becomes mixed up with science and this message section is about general skiing. 

 

If you want to look at temp/precip data on any US state, just plug in the state abbrev where the vt is in the link below.

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/cag3/vt.html

Vermont winter temps, according to NOAA are flat but variable the past 20 yrs. What's interesting is that the VT average Dec-Feb temp will on average vary by as much as 6F for 3 months, with a 10F spread between the warmest and the coldest winters.  That's an amazing spread averaged out over 3 months.

 

vt_winter.tif
 

post #11 of 28

 



 My primitive observation says snow fall amounts on the East Coast have been influenced by warm, moist air.  We've had some great storms.  But it has been warmer.  In Southern Vermont, they just can't seem to hold the snow.

 

I also don't want the discussion to go political.  But I am concerned about future weather.

 
 
 
 I have noticed that also. It normally starts the second week of March and then gets worse as time goes on through April. 

 

post #12 of 28

As a former math teacher, I can tell you that those graphs don't show much, except that winter temperatures are variable.  Twenty years is not enough time to show much of a trend.  Maybe you could add the R=squared values to those graphs.

What is indisputable is that there is a 150 year trend of increasing temperatures, and concurrent increasing trend in carbon in the atmosphere,  It is also indisputable that the increased carbon is related to fossil fuels. It is less certain that carbon is the main cause of climate change, but NASA has models that predict that heat loss from the upper atmosphere and that point to carbon as a main cause of warming.

In the taxonomy of science deniers, those who don't believe that human activity causes climate change have their heads in the sand, but those who deny that climate change is happening at all are third degree black belt crackpots.

 

BK

post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayCantu View Post

My primitive observation says snow fall amounts on the East Coast have been influenced by warm, moist air.  We've had some great storms.  But it has been warmer.  In Southern Vermont, they just can't seem to hold the snow.

 

I also don't want the discussion to go political.  But I am concerned about future weather.

 


 

It is also my understand that, up to a certain point at least, warmer temps lead to greater snowfall, since warmer air holds more moisture. At what point this becomes a liability due to the snow melting faster (or being rain instead of snow), I don't know. But it's interesting to think about. 

post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 

wowser.  thanks for the schoolin.  but not really interested in theories and models, just cold temps and snow. 

I certainly wasn't expecting to be insulted in this forum for posting snowfall and temperature graphs, directly related to our sport. 

They are just squiggly lines I posted, not denying or suggesting anything about the future.

(the temp graphs were created by NOAA - brother to NASA, not like i pulled them from RushLimbaugh.com) 

Somehow I'm a crackpot for posting my little history lesson??  (also I don't even have a white belt of anything)

 

I was only trying to point out that the data that is available shows a slight but likely insignificant increase in North Am snowfall the past 45 years.  But for sure, snowfall is not decreasing - Ski On Bro!  And along with that, the continental US winter temps show a downtrend the past 20 years, with the last 4 below normal.  And statewide, UT, CO, MT & VT winter temps are flat the past 20 years.   I wasn't trying to get anyone into a tizzy or deny anything.  Sorry if the charts don't agree with your theories and models.  Check you numbers...

 

But lots of people are real worried about the future of skiing, seriously, who wants to ski in slush and rain, not me!!

Let's keep politics out of skiing, otherwise it will become REAL stupid!!  Take your political crap to some other venue.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer View Post

As a former math teacher, I can tell you that those graphs don't show much, except that winter temperatures are variable.  Twenty years is not enough time to show much of a trend.  Maybe you could add the R=squared values to those graphs.

What is indisputable is that there is a 150 year trend of increasing temperatures, and concurrent increasing trend in carbon in the atmosphere,  It is also indisputable that the increased carbon is related to fossil fuels. It is less certain that carbon is the main cause of climate change, but NASA has models that predict that heat loss from the upper atmosphere and that point to carbon as a main cause of warming.

In the taxonomy of science deniers, those who don't believe that human activity causes climate change have their heads in the sand, but those who deny that climate change is happening at all are third degree black belt crackpots.

 

BK



 

post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 

last one.  this isn't from some "head in the snow" website either.  this is a chart of NE Penna snowfall, Region 1,

http://climate.met.psu.edu/www_prod/data/state/regional.php#division1

which includes most of the Poconos, home to me. this snowfall data comes from Penn State which is home to one of the foremost, most respected climate scientists in the world.  so we know the data is good.  always trust Penn State!

Pa. Region 1 yearly snowfall for the past 40 yrs.   the only point I'm trying to make is it doesn't appear to be time to sell your skis yet.

 

NE_Pa_snowfall.tif

post #16 of 28

What I find interesting about the global warming debate is how so many people try to define the last 100-200 years as some sort of baseline for what temperature the world *should* be at.  We've had global climate change since people first started being civilized 3-4000 years ago and the every piece of archelogical data we can find shows the climate changing constantly.  Global climate *change* has been the *only* constant in the history of the planet.

 

Having looked at the data for longer periods on the site, the trend is still up over 100 years, in both precipitation and temperatures. 

 

But as pretty much every realistic climate change model I've seen shows, its climate change, not climate warming that is happening because as temperatures change it changes all sorts of weather patterns and areas that used to be colder might get warmer but warmer areas might get colder too.  Who knows, maybe in another 100 years the east coast will have the good snow and the western states will be traveling there instead.  And there is also theories that says this current global warming is going to cause the next ice age.  Maybe that will come quickly and then we can ski 10 months out of the year.

post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by erloas View Post

What I find interesting about the global warming debate is how so many people try to define the last 100-200 years as some sort of baseline for what temperature the world *should* be at.  We've had global climate change since people first started being civilized 3-4000 years ago and the every piece of archelogical data we can find shows the climate changing constantly.  Global climate *change* has been the *only* constant in the history of the planet.

 

Having looked at the data for longer periods on the site, the trend is still up over 100 years, in both precipitation and temperatures. 

 

But as pretty much every realistic climate change model I've seen shows, its climate change, not climate warming that is happening because as temperatures change it changes all sorts of weather patterns and areas that used to be colder might get warmer but warmer areas might get colder too.  Who knows, maybe in another 100 years the east coast will have the good snow and the western states will be traveling there instead.  And there is also theories that says this current global warming is going to cause the next ice age.  Maybe that will come quickly and then we can ski 10 months out of the year.


Haven't you heard there is no debate the science is settledBeating_A_Dead_Horse_by_livius.gif

 

 

post #18 of 28

Hehpopcorn.gif  Did anyone ever think this thread wouldn't end up here?

 

FWIW I think the OP did as good a job as possible of taking a politically charged topic and making it as non-political as it can be. This does relate to our sport. Is it even possible to talk about it on that level alone?


Edited by LiveJazz - 12/7/11 at 12:05pm
post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 

Seriously, I just wanted to put up a few squiggly lines as an FYI...<g>

 

>Maybe that will come quickly and then we can ski 10 months out of the year.

for the snows sake, let's hope these guys "were" right.  here's to skiing in Manhattan!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygWSQPo_a2w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4SPY-TlYGE

 

post #20 of 28

Thanks for taking the time to graph the statistics, if the numbers are trending upwards...that's a good thing for us skiers!

 

post #21 of 28

This is an awesome post!! Thanks for the information.

 

 

snowfalling.gif

post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiveJazz View Post

Hehpopcorn.gif  Did anyone ever think this thread wouldn't end up here?

 

FWIW I think the OP did as good a job as possible of taking a politically charged topic and making it as non-political as it can be. This does relate to our sport. Is it even possible to talk about it on that level alone?


+1

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by sjcoll View Post

Thanks for taking the time to graph the statistics, if the numbers are trending upwards...that's a good thing for us skiers!

 


+1

 

FWIW, SB Devotee, I didn't think that Bode Klammer's insults were targeted at you.



Quote:
Originally Posted by erloas View Post

What I find interesting about the global warming debate is how so many people try to define the last 100-200 years as some sort of baseline for what temperature the world *should* be at.  We've had global climate change since people first started being civilized 3-4000 years ago and the every piece of archelogical data we can find shows the climate changing constantly.  Global climate *change* has been the *only* constant in the history of the planet.

 

Having looked at the data for longer periods on the site, the trend is still up over 100 years, in both precipitation and temperatures. 

 

But as pretty much every realistic climate change model I've seen shows, its climate change, not climate warming that is happening because as temperatures change it changes all sorts of weather patterns and areas that used to be colder might get warmer but warmer areas might get colder too.  Who knows, maybe in another 100 years the east coast will have the good snow and the western states will be traveling there instead.  And there is also theories that says this current global warming is going to cause the next ice age.  Maybe that will come quickly and then we can ski 10 months out of the year.

 

You make a valid point and I agree that the climate has always been in a state of flux.  With that said, it is hard to deny that human activity our our corresponding POSSIBLE effect on the climate sure has increased drastically since the Industrial Revolution.  It would be hard pressed for anyone that has flown into L.A. (or most other metro areas) that our activity hasn't done anything to pollute the air.  

 

The effect of CO2 is not as obvious (particularly considering that the climate fluctuates anyways for a million other reasons), but it seems ignorant to say there is no possible way that we are affecting the climate.  I am not saying that anyone here has stated that or has that believe, ANYONE AT EITHER EXTREME OF THE GLOBAL DEBATE IS LIKELY PRETTY CLOSED MINDED.

 

While the post 1967 numbers look good for the US, Europe doesn't follow the same pattern.  One of the big appeals of Euro skiing to me is the great vertical, but much of that is very low altitude and more sensitive to temp than higher elevations. 
 

 

post #23 of 28

The only numbers I care about are the ones for the place I will likely go skiing..

 

 

Quote:
Snowfall 2009-2010: 122"
Snowfall 2008-2009: 67.8"
Snowfall 2007-2008: 38"
Snowfall 2006-2007: 40"
Snowfall 2005-2006: 66"
Snowfall 2004-2005: 84

 

2010-2011 was probably more around 70" there.  I'm betting it will be less this year.   Our location seems to have peaked in that moisture is good with warmer temps phase and is now in the too warm too often category.  We're off to the worst start I've ever seen.

 

Temps are far more important than snowfall.... that is until someone comes up with a viable way to make decent skiing snow in warmer temps.  Cold is a beneficial part of the skiing experience for me.

post #24 of 28

 

Quote:
While the post 1967 numbers look good for the US, Europe doesn't follow the same pattern.  One of the big appeals of Euro skiing to me is the great vertical, but much of that is very low altitude and more sensitive to temp than higher elevations.

My snowfall data from North American ski areas also goes back to 1967 (though there's only enough data since the mid-1970's to be credible) and show exactly the same "no trend" as the OP.  So I've looked at the individual areas more closely and only seen a negative effect from the warming over that period at the Whistler base.  The Whistler alpine broke its 1973-74 record in 1998-99, but the Whistler base only had 65% of the snow in the latter big season as in the earlier one.  So the warming that has occurred during the 1980's and 1990's flipped a significant amount of precipitation from snow to rain only at one very low altitude site that I track.  In Europe the ski towns tend to be at low altitude like Whistler so no surprise they show a decline in snowfall.  I've seen a study from some site in the French Alps at 2,000 meters showing no trend in snowfall over the past 100+ years.

 

So in general the altitudes where most skiing is done are well above typical rain/snow lines.  I realize there are some ski regions like Australia where this is not true and a further increase in temperatures would be very damaging. 

 

Snowpack could also be affected by warmer springs even if the same amount of snow fell in the winter.  But it's hard to see anything going on here either. The past 3 Aprils have been the 3 snowiest at Alta of the 44 years I have data there.

 

Quote:

 

Twenty years is not enough time to show much of a trend.

Very true considering the volatility of snowfall or virtually any weather data for that matter.  People toss out 5 year averages all the time, and for snowfall that can mean practically nothing (see Alta example above).  It's very easy to "cook" a trend line by cherry picking the start and end dates.  With 2010-11 being the best snow season in North America of the past 35+ years it takes some creativity to make the trend line point down.  Furthermore the worst 4 seasons in that time frame were 1977, 1981, 1992 and 1987.  We haven't had an overall horrible snow year in a long time.

 

Quote:

 

ANYONE AT EITHER EXTREME OF THE GLOBAL DEBATE IS LIKELY PRETTY CLOSED MINDED

Agree.  My snow data has provoked me to dig into it, and there's not much clarity IMHO.  My best guess is that direct CO2 impact is "settled science," but the AGW advocates don't like to mention that the models project 3-4x as much warming as the CO2 alone would cause due to positive water vapor feedback. The models do not do a good job of modeling water vapor (positive feedback) or clouds (negative feedback).  This goes a long way toward explaining why rising temperatures during the greenhouse gas era are periodically offset as in the 1970's or the past decade by other climate influences.

post #25 of 28


I stopped reading here......... 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by erloas View Post

What I find interesting about the global warming debate is how so many people try to define the last 100-200 years as some sort of baseline for what temperature the world *should* be at.  We've had global climate change since people first started being civilized 3-4000 years ago and the every piece of archelogical data we can find shows the climate changing constantly.  Global climate *change* has been the *only* constant in the history of the planet.

 

Having looked at the data for longer periods on the site, the trend is still up over 100 years, in both precipitation and temperatures. 

 

But as pretty much every realistic climate change model I've seen shows, its climate change, not climate warming that is happening because as temperatures change it changes all sorts of weather patterns and areas that used to be colder might get warmer but warmer areas might get colder too.  Who knows, maybe in another 100 years the east coast will have the good snow and the western states will be traveling there instead.  And there is also theories that says this current global warming is going to cause the next ice age.  Maybe that will come quickly and then we can ski 10 months out of the year.



 

post #26 of 28

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

 

My snowfall data from North American ski areas also goes back to 1967 (though there's only enough data since the mid-1970's to be credible) and show exactly the same "no trend" as the OP.  So I've looked at the individual areas more closely and only seen a negative effect from the warming over that period at the Whistler base.  The Whistler alpine broke its 1973-74 record in 1998-99, but the Whistler base only had 65% of the snow in the latter big season as in the earlier one.  So the warming that has occurred during the 1980's and 1990's flipped a significant amount of precipitation from snow to rain only at one very low altitude site that I track.  In Europe the ski towns tend to be at low altitude like Whistler so no surprise they show a decline in snowfall.  I've seen a study from some site in the French Alps at 2,000 meters showing no trend in snowfall over the past 100+ years.

 

So in general the altitudes where most skiing is done are well above typical rain/snow lines.  I realize there are some ski regions like Australia where this is not true and a further increase in temperatures would be very damaging. 

...

Snowpack could also be affected by warmer springs even if the same amount of snow fell in the winter.  But it's hard to see anything going on here either. The past 3 Aprils have been the 3 snowiest at Alta of the 44 years I have data there.

...

Very true considering the volatility of snowfall or virtually any weather data for that matter.  People toss out 5 year averages all the time, and for snowfall that can mean practically nothing (see Alta example above).  It's very easy to "cook" a trend line by cherry picking the start and end dates.  With 2010-11 being the best snow season in North America of the past 35+ years it takes some creativity to make the trend line point down.  Furthermore the worst 4 seasons in that time frame were 1977, 1981, 1992 and 1987.  We haven't had an overall horrible snow year in a long time.

...

Agree.  My snow data has provoked me to dig into it, and there's not much clarity IMHO.  My best guess is that direct CO2 impact is "settled science," but the AGW advocates don't like to mention that the models project 3-4x as much warming as the CO2 alone would cause due to positive water vapor feedback. The models do not do a good job of modeling water vapor (positive feedback) or clouds (negative feedback).  This goes a long way toward explaining why rising temperatures during the greenhouse gas era are periodically offset as in the 1970's or the past decade by other climate influences.

 

 

^ GREAT POST! That is all really interesting info, thanks.

post #27 of 28
Thread Starter 

Tony Crocker's posted above but I don't think he gave a link to his Snowfall page.

http://bestsnow.net/

For sure his page is the definitive place to find snowfall data for particular resorts in the US.

Also, I remember him writing that historical resort snowfall data for Europe is very difficult to find.

 

Here are the snow extent graphs that Rutgers created which will include the complete 3 months of each season.

http://climate.rutgers.edu/snowcover/chart_seasonal.php?ui_set=nhland&ui_season=1

 

Snowbird Snotel

http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/cgibin/wygraph-multi.pl?wateryear=2012&state=UT&stationidname=11j42s-SNOWBIRD

 

More Snowcover, including now.

http://www.climate4you.com/SnowCover.htm#NH%20seasonal%20snow%20cover%20since%201966

 

US - Dept of Ag - Snow Precipitation Update

http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/snotelanom/snotelbasin

 

Colorado Basin Snowpack

http://snowpack.water-data.com/uppercolorado/index.php

 

more snotel

http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/gis/snow.html

 

 

 


Edited by SnowbirdDevotee - 12/8/11 at 1:15pm
post #28 of 28

 

Yes, http://bestsnow.net is an awesome site for snowfall statistics and the odds of getting "fresh tracks" at a particular resort at a particular time of year!  Huge shout out to Tony....I use it all the time.

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