Impacts of Projected Climate Change over the Lake Champlain Basin in Vermont

TitleImpacts of Projected Climate Change over the Lake Champlain Basin in Vermont
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsGuilbert, Justin, Beckage Brian, Winter Jonathan M., Horton Radley M., Perkins Timothy, and Bomblies Arne
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Pagination1861 - 1875
Date Published08/2014
Keywordsclimate change, Climate models, Climate prediction, Climate records, North America, Societal impacts

The Lake Champlain basin is a critical ecological and socioeconomic resource of the northeastern United States and southern Quebec, Canada. While general circulation models (GCMs) provide an overview of climate change in the region, they lack the spatial and temporal resolution necessary to fully anticipate the effects of rising global temperatures associated with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. Observed trends in precipitation and temperature were assessed across the Lake Champlain basin to bridge the gap between global climate change and local impacts. Future shifts in precipitation and temperature were evaluated as well as derived indices, including maple syrup production, days above 32.2°C (90°F), and snowfall, relevant to managing the natural and human environments in the region. Four statistically downscaled, bias-corrected GCM simulations were evaluated from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) forced by two representative concentration pathways (RCPs) to sample the uncertainty in future climate simulations. Precipitation is projected to increase by between 9.1 and 12.8 mm yr-1 decade-1 during the twenty-first century while daily temperatures are projected to increase between 0.43° and 0.49°C decade-1. Annual snowfall at six major ski resorts in the region is projected to decrease between 46.9% and 52.4% by the late twenty-first century. In the month of July, the number of days above 32.2°C in Burlington, Vermont, is projected to increase by over 10 days during the twenty-first century.