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Estimating the impact of climate change on snow cover in the Cairngorms

Snow cover in the Cairngorms - Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
"The study was carried out using historic temperature and precipitation data going back 100 years with observed snow cover days from 1969 – 2005 to identify how temperature affects snow"

A report commissioned by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) and ClimateXChange, Scotland’s centre of expertise connecting climate change research and policy, explores potential changes to snow cover caused by climate change on the sub-arctic high mountains of the Cairngorms National Park.

The research, carried out by scientists from the James Hutton Institute and Scotland’s Rural College, suggests that in the next ten years, snow cover patterns in the Cairngorms may remain the same as the previous ten years, but from 2030 onwards there is likely to be a substantial decline in the number of days of snow cover.

The study was carried out using historic temperature and precipitation data going back 100 years with observed snow cover days from 1969 – 2005 to identify how temperature affects snow. Researchers then used data modelling and climate projections from the Met Office to identify some possible future trends for snow cover in the Cairngorms National Park.

Dr Mike Rivington, a climate change scientist based at the Institute’s Information and Computational Sciences group in Aberdeen and co-author of the report, said: “There are many weather factors that determine when, where and how much snow falls, and what happens to it once it’s on the ground, for example how windy it is.

“This report only looks at what rising temperatures may mean for the number of days with snow on the ground in the Cairngorms National Park. If we are successful in reducing emissions globally, we may moderate the impact.

“The historical snow cover data for the Park is incomplete, limiting analysis. Combined with daily climate projections available only for one emissions scenario, we need daily projections to look at the number of snow cover days in the future, this report is only a first step, and not a blueprint.”

Commenting on the publication of the report, CNPA Chief Executive Grant Moir said: “It is crucial that the assessment of snow cover is considered as part of the wider work on climate change with implications for hydrology, biodiversity as well as the local economy. There is much good work already being done in the Park from woodland expansion and peatland restoration, to new infrastructure for active travel and renewable energy development, but this needs to be scaled up to help tackle the climate emergency.

“As well as looking at what can be done with partners across the Park, we are taking our corporate responsibilities very seriously with various changes to how we operate, such as switching to more environmentally friendly vehicles and other changes to internal policies which will promote a reduction in emissions.”

The report, titled ‘Snow Cover and Climate Change in the Cairngorms National Park’, is available on the ClimateXChange website. CNPA have also published a broader statement on their website.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/estimating-impact-climate-change-snow-cover-cairngorms on 06/12/19 08:22:10 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.