Arctic May Get More Rain Than Snow Earlier Than Predicted


This artic may get see more rain than snow earlier than expected according to a new study released on Tuesday. The study warns of the consequences for both nature and humanity of this adjustment.

The Arctic is warming at a significantly quicker rate than the rest of the world, resulting in a retreating sea ice cover and rising humidity in the air.

As a consequence, experts project that precipitation across these areas will rise significantly by the end of the century.

A research published in Nature Communications compared the forecasts of the most recent generation of climate models to those made by prior generations of climate models.

Their estimates indicate that the transition from a snow-dominated annual precipitation to one dominated by rain will happen “a decade or two early.”

“The changes will be bigger and occur considerably sooner than previously anticipated, which will have significant consequences for the quality of life in the area,” said Michelle McCrystall, the primary author of the study.

“For example, in the autumn, when the shift is most noticeable, the central Arctic zone might make the changeover around 2070, according to newer estimates, compared to 2090 according to older estimates,” added the researcher.

Everything, however, will be determined by the amount to which the warming occurs. At the present pace of change, rain will overtake snow as the dominant precipitation type in the Arctic by the end of the century. However, keeping global warming to + 1.5 degrees Celsius, the most ambitious goal of the Paris accord, may assist to maintain a snow-dominated artic for much longer.

According to Gavin Schmidt of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the study’s findings demonstrate that “the worst consequences may be averted” if greenhouse gas emissions are dramatically decreased. However, Schmidt disagreed with a portion of the study’s findings. According to him, the findings do not demonstrate that the rain would come sooner than anticipated.

It is believed that the changeover between snow and rain would have cascading impacts in all circumstances.

For example, rain falling on snow increases the risk of reindeer and caribou deaths, which are important to local populations since the animals are unable to reach their food because of the impenetrable layer of ice that develops.

According to the research, the reduction in snow cover will also impair the albedo effect (the capacity to reflect solar radiation), so increasing global warming.

During the middle of August, for example, rain was detected at a height of more than 3,000 meters, at the very top of the Greenland ice sheet, for the first time.

Despite the “worrying” event in this area, snow should continue to dominate the landscape in the twenty-first century, according to Michelle McCrystal, although it is not possible to tell at this point whether it is an isolated event or a sign that the reality may be worse than the models predict at this time.