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Investigating Atmospheric River Precipitation and Associated Snowpack Characteristics Under a Future Warmer Climate Scenario: Case Studies from the Eastern Sierra Nevada near Donner Summit, California
AuthorFremeau, Paul Graham
AdvisorBoyle, Douglas P
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Atmospheric rivers (ARs) making landfall along the California coast have been warming since the 1980’s, resulting in changing AR precipitation and temperature characteristics in the Sierra Nevada of California, increasing flood risk, hydrologic resource stress, and impacting winter recreation and local economies. This warming trend is projected to continue, significantly altering the altitude of freezing levels within ARs and changing AR precipitation characteristics for the study area. The pseudo-global warming method (PGW) was utilized to study how five recent ARs could manifest meteorologically at the surface under IPCC RCP8.5 near the end of the 21st century. Projected changes include increasing variability in AR precipitation, warmer near-surface temperatures, and an increase in freezing levels by the end of the 21st century. These changing AR characteristics raise concerns of both flooding and snow drought which would negatively affect environmental health and safety, induce hydrological stress, and damage local economies.