, Volume 105, Issue 3-4, pp 489-508
Date: 17 Aug 2010

Effects of climate change on the intensity and frequency of heavy snowfall events in the Pyrenees

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Abstract

The intensity and frequency of heavy snowfall events in the Pyrenees were simulated using data from the HIRHAM regional climate model for a control period (1960–1990) and two greenhouse emission scenarios (SRES B2 and A2) for the end of the twenty-first century (2070–2100). Comparisons between future and control simulations enabled a quantification of the expected change in the intensity and frequency of these events at elevations of 1,000, 1,500, 2,000 and 2,500 m a.s.l. The projected changes in heavy snowfall depended largely on the elevation and the greenhouse gas emission scenario considered. At 1,000 m a.s.l., a marked decrease in the frequency and intensity of heavy snowfall events was projected with the B2 and A2 scenarios. At 1,500 m a.s.l., a decrease in the frequency and intensity is only expected under the higher greenhouse gas emission scenario (A2). Above 2,000 m a.s.l., no change or heavier snowfalls are expected under both emission scenarios. Large spatial variability in the impacts of climate change on heavy snowfall events was found across the study area.