Climatic Change

, Volume 112, Issue 3–4, pp 1059–1069 | Cite as

Snow water changes with elevation over the Western United States in IPCC AR4 models



This work analyzes variations of snow water with elevation for a group of AR4 models over the Western United States. The results are expressed in terms of both snow water equivalent (SWE), which is the depth of snow if melted, and snow water volume (SWV), which is the total volume of SWE for a specified region. The decrease in total SWV over the study region between 1905 and 25 and 1980–99 is about 22%, which is in the range of the observed values. The results for both the A1b and B1 scenarios for the middle twenty-first century both show a near total loss of SWE at lower elevations. However, the largest losses for SWV are near 1800 m. Furthermore, the total SWV loss for the A1b scenario is about 63%, whereas that for the more moderate B1 scenario is about 49%. Thus, a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is likely to reduce the loss of snow, which is vital to society in the dry Western United States.


Global Climate Model Elevation Range Snow Water Equivalent Variable Infiltration Capacity Regional Climate Model Output 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We acknowledge the modeling groups, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) and the WCRP’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM) for their roles in making available the WCRP CMIP3 multi-model dataset. Support of this dataset is provided by the Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Land, Air and Water ResourcesUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA
  2. 2.Ecole PolytechniquePalaiseauFrance

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