Climate Dynamics

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 381–407 | Cite as

Past and future changes in climate and hydrological indicators in the US Northeast

  • Katharine Hayhoe
  • Cameron P. Wake
  • Thomas G. Huntington
  • Lifeng Luo
  • Mark D. Schwartz
  • Justin Sheffield
  • Eric Wood
  • Bruce Anderson
  • James Bradbury
  • Art DeGaetano
  • Tara J. Troy
  • David Wolfe
Article

Abstract

To assess the influence of global climate change at the regional scale, we examine past and future changes in key climate, hydrological, and biophysical indicators across the US Northeast (NE). We first consider the extent to which simulations of twentieth century climate from nine atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) are able to reproduce observed changes in these indicators. We then evaluate projected future trends in primary climate characteristics and indicators of change, including seasonal temperatures, rainfall and drought, snow cover, soil moisture, streamflow, and changes in biometeorological indicators that depend on threshold or accumulated temperatures such as growing season, frost days, and Spring Indices (SI). Changes in indicators for which temperature-related signals have already been observed (seasonal warming patterns, advances in high-spring streamflow, decreases in snow depth, extended growing seasons, earlier bloom dates) are generally reproduced by past model simulations and are projected to continue in the future. Other indicators for which trends have not yet been observed also show projected future changes consistent with a warmer climate (shrinking snow cover, more frequent droughts, and extended low-flow periods in summer). The magnitude of temperature-driven trends in the future are generally projected to be higher under the Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) mid-high (A2) and higher (A1FI) emissions scenarios than under the lower (B1) scenario. These results provide confidence regarding the direction of many regional climate trends, and highlight the fundamental role of future emissions in determining the potential magnitude of changes we can expect over the coming century.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharine Hayhoe
    • 1
  • Cameron P. Wake
    • 2
  • Thomas G. Huntington
    • 3
  • Lifeng Luo
    • 4
  • Mark D. Schwartz
    • 5
  • Justin Sheffield
    • 4
  • Eric Wood
    • 4
  • Bruce Anderson
    • 6
  • James Bradbury
    • 7
  • Art DeGaetano
    • 8
  • Tara J. Troy
    • 4
  • David Wolfe
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of GeosciencesTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA
  2. 2.Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and SpaceUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  3. 3.US Geological SurveyAugustaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  5. 5.Department of GeographyUniversity of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA
  6. 6.Department of Geography and EnvironmentBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  7. 7.Department of Geosciences, Climate System Research CenterUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  8. 8.Northeast Regional Climate Center, Department of Earth and Atmospheric SciencesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  9. 9.Department of HorticultureCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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