Team Develops Method to Predict Local Climate Change

Global climate models are essential for climate prediction and assessing the impacts of climate change across large areas, but a Dartmouth College-led team has developed a new method to project future climate scenarios at the local level. The method can be used in any mountainous or hilly area with a reasonable number of weather stations measuring temperature and precipitation.The findings appear in the Journal of Hydrometeorology. The team includes researchers from Dartmouth, the University of Vermont and Columbia University.Global models can simulate the earth's climate hundreds of years into the future, and have been used to evaluate climate impacts on water, air temperature, human health, extreme precipitation, wildfire, agriculture, snowfall, and other applications. But both global climate models—and global models that have been downscaled to increase the data's spatial resolution, analogous to increasing the number of pixels used in a digital image—aren't accurate at local and regional levels.

That makes them insufficient for modeling of potential climate impacts on small watersheds, such as those in the mountainous northeastern United States, which are a critical socioeconomic resource for Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Maine and southern Quebec.

Chad Sparkes