(Photo : Nserrano/Wikimedia Commons)
If current climate change trends continue, Southern California could be seeing significantly less snowfall by the end of the century, a new UCLA study asserts. If left unchecked, Los Angeles-area mountains will be receiving 30 to 40 percent less snow by midcentury, and up to two-thirds less snow by 2100 than in the years leading up to 2000.
"Climate change has become inevitable, and we're going to lose a substantial amount of snow by midcentury," said Hall, a professor in UCLA's Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. "But our choices matter. By the end of the century, there will be stark differences in how much snowfall remains, depending on whether we begin to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions."
The study pored over snowfall data from 1981 to 2000, and then predicted scenarios for 2041-2060 and 2081-2100 under what the scientists term a "business as usual" model where greenhouse gases and other climate change variables grow unchecked and unmitigated. By midcentury, the team determined that there would be 42 percent less snow, and that by the end of century there would be a whopping 67 percent less snow. With targeted mitigation efforts and policies, however, the snowfall can be kept to only 33 percent less by the end of the century.
"This science is clear and compelling: Los Angeles must begin today to prepare for climate change," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "We invested in this study and created the AdaptLA framework to craft innovative solutions and preserve our quality of life for the next generation of Angelenos."
The meager snowfalls will have an effect on both local mountain communities and the environment. Tourist-driven towns will suffer as skiers and snowboarders look elsewhere for powder, and the rising temperatures will cause more of the snow to fall as rain, increasing the possibility of flooding.
"As a California resident, I spend my winters snowboarding in mountains throughout our amazing state," said Jeremy Jones, founder of Protect Our Winters, an environmental nonprofit composed of winter sports enthusiasts. "It breaks my heart to see America's great natural resources harmed by climate change. We must, immediately, begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is no choice."
You can read the full published study at C-Change.LA.