If there’s snow on the ground where you live, enjoy it — while it lasts.
Mark Vanhoenacker EXPLAINS:
The United States Global Change Research Program’s recently released draft NationalClimate Assessment reports that “Overall snow cover has decreased in the Northern Hemisphere, due in part to higher temperatures that shorten the time snow spends on the ground.” The report also notes a decline in the frequency of very snowy winters and in snow accumulations in the American West, and said we can expect more rainstorms “in previously snow-dominated settings.” A recent studyby the Natural Resources Defense Council warns that without action on climate change, the snow season in the Northeast will be halved by 2100.
Whatever your feelings for snow, its evanescence will cost you. Frank Lowenstein, a climate specialist with the Nature Conservancy, told me: “the snowpack out West is how we store water for the summer for half the country. And it’s disappearing.” That means less summer water for cities, agriculture and recreation. It means more wildfires. Changing ecosystems will also affect wildlife, while less snowy landscapes absorb still more heat from the sun. The National Climate Assessment expects heat-related deaths to increase more than winter-weather-related fatalities will decline.