Atmospheric Circulation and Snowpack in the Gunnison River Basin

by Gregory J. McCabe, Jr., U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, United States,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Water Policy and Management: Solving the Problems

Abstract: Winter mean 700-millibar height anomalies over the eastern North Pacific Ocean and the western United States are related to variability in snowpack accumulations measured on or about April 1 in the Gunnison River Basin in Colorado. Higher-than-average snowpack accumulations are associated with negative 700-millibar height anomalies (anomalous cyclonic circulation) over the western United States and over most of the eastern North Pacific Ocean. The anomalous cyclonic circulation enhances the movement of moisture from the eastern North Pacific Ocean into the southwestern United States. Variability in winter mean 700-millibar height anomalies explain over 50 percent of the variability in snowpack accumulations in the Gunnison River Basin. The statistically significant linear relations between 700-millibar height anomalies and snowpack accumulations in the Gunnison River Basin can be used with general-circulation-model simulations of future 700-millibar height anomalies to estimate changes in snowpack accumulations in the Gunnison River Basin for future climatic conditions.

Subject Headings: Basins | Snow | Rivers and streams | Water circulation | Water resources | Ocean engineering | Winter | North America | United States | Pacific Ocean | Colorado

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