How global warming can worsen snowfalls

How global warming can worsen snowfalls

Fri February 13th, 2015
Carolyn Johnson, Boston Globe

A satellite image of the January 27, 2015 historic blizzard near peak intensity as it moves over New York and Boston. Credit: NASA/NOAA/NPP/VIIRSBoston has seen more than its fair share of snowfall in recent weeks, and that's not likely to change, according to recent research by Paul O'Gorman, a PAOC associate professor of atmospheric science. The Boston Globe spoke with O'Gorman about his findings and what a warming world might mean for Boston winters, excerpted below:

To science, not all snowstorms are the same: average snowfall will probably decrease in most places as the climate warms, but the most aggravating, traffic-snarling, work-stopping, back-straining extreme storms like the one that just buried Boston could actually get bigger.

"Most studies have been about how much snow falls in a season or in a year and call that average snowfall. But of course, in terms of disruption to society or economic disruption, we’re also interested in heavy snowfalls," said Paul O’Gorman, an associate professor of atmospheric science at MIT who published his findings in Nature. “In some regions, fairly cold regions, you could have a decrease in the average snowfall in a year, but actually an intensification of the snowfall extremes.”

Read more in the Boston Globe