Modelling Cairngorm snow to 2080

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I’ve been doing some work for the Cairngorms National Park (CNP), with the James Hutton Institute under the ClimateXChange (CXC) lead from the Scottish Government.

I don’t get to do much snow work these days, so it has been really fun to resurrect some of my PhD.

The report was issued on Monday by the CNP, to help the CNP plan for the impacts of climate change. The official version of the report is available from CXC.

Headline: forecasting is an uncertain business. That aside, indications are

  • There’s been ~2 °C of warming in daily minimum temperatures (at Balmoral) over the past 100 years.
  • In to the future it is likely there will be increased variability in snow cover over the next two decades (some very snowy winters, some with very little snow).
  • After this global/Scottish temperatures will have increased enough that there will probably be a dramatic decrease in the number of days of snow cover each winter.

Snow is beautiful and emotive, so the report has been getting some media interest with more to come (BBC One Show – keep an eye out!). Here are a couple of recent pieces:

I made a summary of my contribution in the below graphic. True to form all built on open source (Scribus, Ubuntu, R, QGIS).

Michael Spencer. (2019, October 24). Cairngorm National Park snow cover duration 1960 – 2080. Zenodo.

The code for making parts of the graphic and for running the snow model are online. Take a look:

Michael Spencer. (2019, October 25). Snow Cover and Climate Change in the Cairngorms National Park – model run, analysis and plot creation (Version v1.0). Zenodo.

I ran the model on the EPIC RStudio server, 50 cores was a lot quicker than running it on my desktop!

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