Jay Lawrimore National Centers for Environmental Information, Asheville, NC NAS Workshop on Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change Attribution

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1 Jay Lawrimore National Centers for Environmental Information, Asheville, NC NAS Workshop on Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change Attribution October 22, 2015

2 2 Very snowy winters have generally decreased, snowpack, and snow cover extent have decreased, but years with heavy seasonal snow and extreme snowstorms continue to occur with great frequency 1 Storm of the Century (1993); Snowmageddon (2010); Snowtober (2011), W. Spanish Pyrenees Winter (2013); Deadly Himalayan Snowstorm (2014) Approximately twice as many extreme U.S. snowstorms occurred in the latter half of the 20 th century than the first 2 Primarily in NE, Midwest, N. Plains 3 Decadal number of extreme snowstorms in each of 6 climate regions in eastern 2/3rds of U.S. 2

3 3 Wetter (warmer) than average winters increase (decrease) likelihood of severe snowstorms in the northern (southern) U.S. There is a strong influence from ENSO on the incidence of severe snowstorms in some regions 3 El Nino; Southeast and Northeast La Nina; Upper Midwest Conditional probability of occurrence of TOP100 snowstorms during moderate-strong El Niño, La Niña, and ENSO neutral conditions 3 Arctic Amplification affecting wintertime circulation?? More patterns of blocking? Slower movement of storms?

4 4 Notable severe ice storms 1994 Southeast; $5B, 9 Fatalities 1998 New England; $2B, 16 Fatalities 2008 South Central China; ~$21B Greatest number of ice storms occur in NE, Midwest U.S. and eastern Canada No indication of 20th Century trends in episodes of freezing rain 4 Warming temperatures expected to increase the frequency of freezing rain from south to north 5,6 Temporal distribution of annual # of hours of freezing rain in U.S.,

5 5 Western South Dakota; Oct As much as 55 of snow in the Black Hills. Rapid City s 24 hour total of 19 just below the all time record No difference in SWE between pre industrial and modern day model runs W. Spanish Pyrenees; Winter Spring of the last 10 years much snowier than usual even though temperatures increasing and overall snowfall trend negative No link between the recent increase in greater than normal snowfall seasons and anthropogenic forcing found Himalayan Storm; Oct Unanticipated blizzard initiated avalanches that killed 43 people, including 21 trekkers Intensification of Bay of Bengal TCs interacting with stronger extratropical systems increase the likelihood of such storms

6 6 Observational data Snowfall is extremely difficult to measure accurately and too few observations How often is the occurrence or severity of an event missed? Observations of ice accretion needed Role of Arctic Amplification in changing odds of high amplitude wave patterns and blocking Attribution for events strongly governed by Atmospheric Circulation is extremely difficult with current models Changes in circulation compared to natural variability are extremely small Extreme storm event attribution may benefit more from a focus on the thermodynamic state of the climate system 10 Analysis of the moisture budget, where the moisture came from, and how warmer sea surface temperatures may have influenced strength of the storm

7 7 1. Kunkel, K.E., and Coauthors, 2009: Trends in twentieth century U.S. extreme snowfall seasons. J. Climate, 22, , doi: /2009jcli Kunkel, K. E., and Coauthors, 2013: Monitoring and understanding trends in extreme storms: State of knowledge. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 94, doi: /bams D Lawrimore, J., T. R. Karl, M. Squires, D. A. Robinson, and K. E. Kunkel, 2014: Trends and variability of snowstorms east of the Rocky Mountains. J. Hydrometeor., 15, , doi: /jhm D Houston TG, Changnon SA, 2006: Freezing rain events: a major weather hazard in the conterminous US., Nat. Hazards 40: Cheng CS, Li G, Auld H, 2011: Possible impacts of climate change on freezing rain using downscaled future climate scenarios: updated for Eastern Canada, Atmosphere Ocean 49(1): Klima, K., M.G. Morgan, 2014: Ice storm frequencies in a warmer climate. Climatic Change, DOI: /s Edwards, L., and Coauthors, 2014: October 2013 Blizzard in western South Dakota [in "Explaining Extremes of 2013 from a Climate Perspective"]. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 95 (9), S23 S Anel, J., and Coauthors, 2014: The extreme snow accumulation in the Western Spanish Pyrenees during winter and spring 2013 [in "Explaining Extremes of 2013 from a Climate Perspective"]. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 95 (9), S73 S Wang., S., and Coauthors, 2015: The Deadly Himalayan Snowstorm of October 2014: Synoptic Conditions and Associated Trends [in Explaining Extremes of 2014 from a Climate Perspective ]. Accepted Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 10. Trenberth, K. E., Fasullo, J. T., & Shepherd, T. G. (2015). Attribution of climate extreme events. Nature Climate Change, 5, doi: /nclimate2657

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