Tag Archives: North America

North American mountains get 3Xs the snow previously estimated

The uncertainty of science: A new analysis based on computer models suggests that the mountains of North America get three times more snow each year than scientists has previously estimated.

Those figures come thanks to a new analysis in which researchers used computer simulations to estimate the typical annual snowfall in each of 11 North American mountain ranges. After supercomputer simulations of regional climate that would have taken 50 years on the average laptop, the team found that those mountain ranges receive about 3018 cubic kilometers of snow a year. Although those ranges together cover only about 25% of the area stretching from the Arctic Ocean down to Mexico’s southern border, they get about 60% of its snow, the researchers report in Geophysical Research Letters. That’s nearly three times the estimate for mountain snow from one previous study, the team notes.

First, this is based on computer simulations, not actual data in the field. I wouldn’t put much money on it. Second, it does show us how little climate scientists really know about the climate, as this simulation is still using all the knowledge they have, and it comes up with a conclusion that confounds them. Third, I was astonished the article didn’t try to push the idea that this larger estimate should be blamed on human-caused global warming. It didn’t, which I suppose is a sign of some progress.