Effects of more extreme precipitation regimes on maximum seasonal snow water equivalent

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Abstract

[1] Many climate change forecasts project more extreme precipitation regimes (MEPR) in the future, characterized by more intense but less frequent storms. Plausible impacts of MEPR have drawn considerable attention from hydrologists and ecologists, but the hydrological impacts of MEPR in snowfall-dominated regions are less clear. Here we quantify the impacts of MEPR on the maximum seasonal snow water equivalent (SWEmax) based on simulated snowpack dynamics. We show that between any two scenarios with the same amount of precipitation, the one with more intense snowfalls generally has larger SWEmax. Under a warmer climate, SWEmax increases enough with MEPR to partially offset higher melt rates and rain/snow ratios, especially in warm and dry winters. This study demonstrates how MEPR might affect seasonal snow water resources and potentially alleviate the decreasing trend in SWEmax caused by climate warming under specific conditions.

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