February 26, 2024

Rainfall in Arctic Will Soon Be More Common Than Snowfall – Decades Earlier Than Thought

2 layers of ice in deep snow following the rain-on-snow events of November 2006. Credit: Photo courtesy of Florian Stammler
Modifications will occur decades earlier than previously believed.
More rain than snow will fall in the Arctic and this transition will happen decades earlier than formerly anticipated, a new research study led by the University of Manitoba (UM) and co-authored by researchers at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at CU Boulder reports.
Projections from the current models, published by a worldwide team of researchers led by UM in the journal Nature Communications, reveal a high increase in the rate and series of precipitation expected to fall in the Arctic, which the majority of these future events will be rain. This shift is happening due to quick warming, sea ice loss, and poleward heat transportation in the Arctic.

” There are big ramifications of these modifications, which we keep in mind in the paper, such as a decrease of snow cover, increased permafrost melt, more rain-on-snow occasions, and higher flooding occasions from increased river discharge, all of which have ramifications on wildlife populations and human incomes,” states lead researcher Michelle McCrystall, a postdoctoral fellow in UMs Centre for Earth Observation Science in the Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources.
This shift to a rain-dominated period in the Arctic is anticipated to start at various times depending on the season and area. In fall, for example, these brand-new designs anticipate the shift to take place between 2050 to 2080, whereas the old designs predicted this to occur in between 2070 to 2090. And in what might be considered a precursor, as these scientists were preparing their report, in August of this year rain succumbed to the very first time in recorded history on the greatest point of the Greenland ice sheet.
” The reality that were getting rainfall on the top of Greenland right now, and that were perhaps going to get more rains into the future—- it kind of staggers me,” McCrystall says. And if we continue the trajectory that were going, a lot of concerns might take place even quicker than what weve predicted.”
The paper, “New climate models reveal faster and bigger boosts in Arctic precipitation than previously projected,” alerts that minimized snow cover will even more worsen Arctic and international warming through albedo feedbacks, increased winter season co2 fluxes, methane releases from soil, and thawing permafrost.
The precipitation change will likewise impact soil wetness and groundwater, and the underground fungal networks that supports all aboveground plants. And more rain-than-snow occasions can be devastating to wild caribou, reindeer and muskoxen populations: The rain might freeze and develop layers of ice, inhibiting them from accessing forage buried under snow. Migratory bird populations in the Arctic are expected to do well with these warmer and wetter conditions.
” The concern facing us today is that the Arctic is altering so quickly that Arctic wildlife might not be able to adapt,” said Mark Serreze, co-author of the research study and director of the National Snow and Ice Data. “Its not just an issue for the caribou, musk and reindeer ox, but for the people of the north that depend upon them as well.”
The research study group—- which consists of members from the University College London, CU Boulder, University of Lapland and the University of Exeter—- note if we can stay under 1.5 degrees Celsius of worldwide warming, then some of these projected modifications (particularly the transition to a rainfall controlled rainfall) might not occur in some regions of the Arctic. If we continue on the present trajectory, which provided existing global policies indicates we could reach 3 degrees Celsius worldwide warming by the end of the century, that this shift will likely happen.
” The brand-new designs couldnt be clearer that unless international warming is stopped, the future Arctic will be wetter; once-frozen seas will be open water, rain will replace snow,” states co-author teacher James Screen of the department of mathematics and Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter.
What this precipitation transition suggests for sea ice, the dominating landscape function of the Arctic, is unidentified. In short, more rain indicates more fresh water at the oceans surface area, which might assist sea ice development, but more rains is related to more heat, which would reduce sea ice development.
” People might state, Well, what has that got to finish with me? Well, this is going to impact you, and in real truth, it is affecting you now,” McCrystall states. “For me, I think what people need to understand is, we reside in a global society where whatever is interconnected, whichs true of the climate. We have a worldwide environment. So, what occurs in one area, will impact what happens all over else.”
Referral: “New environment models reveal faster and larger increases in Arctic rainfall than formerly forecasted” by Michelle R. McCrystall, Julienne Stroeve, Mark Serreze, Bruce C. Forbes and James A. Screen, 30 November 2021, Nature Communications.DOI: 10.1038/ s41467-021-27031-y.
This research was carried out, in part, thanks to financing from the Canada Research Chairs Program, from NSF Grant NNA 198230, from the European Commission Research and Innovation (CHARTER) and from NERC grant NE/V005855/1.

This transition to a rain-dominated period in the Arctic is anticipated to begin at different times depending on the season and area. And in what could be considered a precursor, as these scientists were preparing their report, in August of this year rain fell for the first time in documented history on the highest point of the Greenland ice sheet.
And more rain-than-snow occasions can be ravaging to wild caribou, reindeer and muskoxen populations: The rain might freeze and create layers of ice, inhibiting them from accessing forage buried under snow. Migratory bird populations in the Arctic are expected to do well with these warmer and wetter conditions.
Well, this is going to impact you, and in actual truth, it is affecting you now,” McCrystall says.

” People might say, Well, what has that got to finish with me? Well, this is going to impact you, and in actual reality, it is impacting you now.”