Response of Snowmelt Hydrology to Climate Change

TitleResponse of Snowmelt Hydrology to Climate Change
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsBrubaker K.L., Rango A.
JournalWater, Air and Soil Pollution
Start Page335
Keywordsclimate change, net radiation, runoff, snow cover, snowmelt, water supply

In mountainous regions where the accumulation and melt of seasonal snow cover are important for runoff production, the timing and quantity of water supply could be strongly affected by regional climate change, particularly altered temperature and precipitation regimes. In this paper, the hydrological response to climate change scenarios is examined using a semi-distributed snowmelt runoff model. The model represents an improvement over simple temperature-based models, in that it incorporates the net radiation into the snowpack. Thus it takes into account the basin’s topography and slope orientation when computing snowmelt. In general, a warmer climate is expected to shift snowmelt earlier into the winter and spring, decreasing summer runoff. The effects of other potential climate changes (such as precipitation and cloudiness patterns) are explored. The uncertainties in these predictions are discussed.