Climate change impacts on snow in Victoria

Select | Print


Bhend, Jonas; Bathols, Janice; Hennessy, Kevin


2012-12-01


Report


42 p


In 2003, CSIRO and the Australian National University (ANU) published a report titled “The impact of climate change on snow conditions in mainland Australia”. The key findings of this report included: • Snow depths have declined from the 1950s to 2001; • When projections from nine global climate models are used as input to a snow model, future decreases in snow depth, cover and duration are simulated; • By 2020, the average annual duration of snow-cover decreases by between five and 48 days; maximum snow depths are reduced and tend to occur earlier in the year; and the total area covered in snow shrinks by 10-40%; • Larger impacts are projected by 2050. The aim of this report is to review and assess the latest evidence for (i) changes in Victorian snow properties up to 2011 and (ii) projected changes in snow properties up to the year 2050 based on 18 climate models. The updated analysis of snow measurements at Rocky Valley Dam (altitude 1650 m) from 1954-2011 indicates a clear trend to lower maximum snow depths and an earlier end of the snow season. The variability in maximum snow depth can be well explained by maximum temperature and precipitation from June to August. The earlier end of the snow season is clearly dependent on changes in temperature. Temperature and precipitation projections from 18 climate models are used as input to the CSIRO snow model to estimate changes in snow conditions for 20-year periods centred on 2020 and 2050, relative to a 20-year period centred on 1990. Results are given for each climate model and a distinction is made between results for three different greenhouse gas emission scenarios: low (B1), medium (A1B) and high (A1FI). This update confirms that the end of the snow season is likely to occur earlier in future, with a slightly later start, and lower maximum depths. These trends will be superimposed on large natural year-to-year variability. The number of good snow seasons is likely to decline while the number of poor seasons is likely to increase. Decreases in maximum snow depth are evident in all simulations, but there is a wide range of uncertainty due to differences in projections between the 18 climate models. For example, at Falls Creek ski resort, the simulated average maximum depth is 1376 mm in 1990. By 2020, the maximum depth decreases to 1104-1287 mm for the low scenario and 825-1181 mm for the high scenario. By 2050, the depth decreases to 854-1191 mm for the low scenario and 171-761 mm for the high scenario. The area of north-east Victoria covered in snow declines in future. For example, by 2020, the area averaging at least 1 day of snow-cover decreases by 6-12% for the low scenario and 12-25% for the high scenario. By 2050, the area averaging at least 1 day of snow-cover decreases by 11-24% for the low scenario and 38-73% for the high scenario. Across four ski resorts (Falls Creek, Mt Hotham, Mt Buller and Mt Buffalo), by 2020, the average snow season becomes 4-16 days shorter for the low scenario and 10-31 days shorter for the high scenario. By 2050, the average snow season becomes 13-29 days shorter for the low scenario and 32-107 days shorter for the high scenario.


Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR)


Aspendale, Vic


Climate Change Processes


Published Version (pdf) (1.96MB)


© 2012 CSIRO To the extent permitted by law, all rights are reserved and no part of this publication covered by copyright may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means except with the written permission of CSIRO.


EP117309


Client Report (Author)


English


Bhend, Jonas; Bathols, Janice; Hennessy, Kevin. Climate change impacts on snow in Victoria. Aspendale, Vic: Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR); 2012. http://hdl.handle.net/102.100.100/106550?index=1



Loading citation data...

Citation counts
(Requires subscription to view)