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Article

Spatial and Temporal Shifts in Historic and Future Temperature and Precipitation Patterns Related to Snow Accumulation and Melt Regimes in Alberta, Canada

1
Airshed and Watershed Stewardship Branch, Resource Stewardship Division, Alberta Environment and Parks, 3535 Research Road NW, Calgary, AB T2L 2K8, Canada
2
Environmental Knowledge and Prediction Branch, Resource Stewardship Division, Alberta Environment and Parks, 3535 Research Road NW, Calgary, AB T2L 2K8, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Barrie R. Bonsal
Water 2021, 13(8), 1013; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081013
Received: 26 February 2021 / Revised: 30 March 2021 / Accepted: 1 April 2021 / Published: 7 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Past and Future Trends and Variability in Hydro-Climatic Processes)
Shifts in winter temperature and precipitation patterns can profoundly affect snow accumulation and melt regimes. These shifts have varying impacts on local to large-scale hydro-ecological systems and freshwater distribution, especially in cold regions with high hydroclimatic heterogeneity. We evaluate winter climate changes in the six ecozones (Mountains, Foothills, Prairie, Parkland, Boreal, and Taiga) in Alberta, Canada, and identify regions of elevated susceptibility to change. Evaluation of historic trends and future changes in winter climate use high-resolution (~10 km) gridded data for 1950–2017 and projections for the 2050s (2041–2070) and 2080s (2071–2100) under medium (RCP 4.5) and high (RCP 8.5) emissions scenarios. Results indicate continued declines in winter duration and earlier onset of spring above-freezing temperatures from historic through future periods, with greater changes in Prairie and Mountain ecozones, and extremely short or nonexistent winter durations in future climatologies. Decreases in November–April precipitation and a shift from snow to rain dominate the historic period. Future scenarios suggest winter precipitation increases are expected to predominantly fall as rain. Additionally, shifts in precipitation distributions are likely to lead to historically-rare, high-precipitation extreme events becoming more common. This study increases our understanding of historic trends and projected future change effects on winter snowpack-related climate and can be used inform adaptive water resource management strategies. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; winter climate; future projections; Alberta; Rocky Mountains; freshwater availability; snowpack regimes; climate variability; precipitation phase climate change; winter climate; future projections; Alberta; Rocky Mountains; freshwater availability; snowpack regimes; climate variability; precipitation phase
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MDPI and ACS Style

Newton, B.W.; Farjad, B.; Orwin, J.F. Spatial and Temporal Shifts in Historic and Future Temperature and Precipitation Patterns Related to Snow Accumulation and Melt Regimes in Alberta, Canada. Water 2021, 13, 1013. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081013

AMA Style

Newton BW, Farjad B, Orwin JF. Spatial and Temporal Shifts in Historic and Future Temperature and Precipitation Patterns Related to Snow Accumulation and Melt Regimes in Alberta, Canada. Water. 2021; 13(8):1013. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081013

Chicago/Turabian Style

Newton, Brandi W.; Farjad, Babak; Orwin, John F. 2021. "Spatial and Temporal Shifts in Historic and Future Temperature and Precipitation Patterns Related to Snow Accumulation and Melt Regimes in Alberta, Canada" Water 13, no. 8: 1013. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081013

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