Image courtesy of photofarmer via flickr
Confirming what has now become a multi-decadal trend, scientists from the University of New Hampshire have determined that December-March temperatures across the Northeast significantly increased from 1965 to 2005 - by roughly 2.5°F. Elizabeth Burakowski and Cameron Wake, who studied data obtained from weather stations across the region, also found that snowfall totals fell by an average of 8.8 in during the same period - the largest drops occurring in New England - and that the number of days with at least 1 in of snow on the ground dropped by an average of 9 days.
The individual data points displayed tremendous variation: Snowfall totals ranged from a low of 13.5 in at Cape May, N.J., to a high of 137.6 in at Oswego, N.Y; some stations even showed increases. Burakowski attributed the reduction in snow-covered days to higher temperatures and the so-called "snow-albedo feedback" - when a lower snow cover allows more warmth to be absorbed by the ground, causing further decreases in cover. Richard Heim, a climate scientist at the National Climatic Data Center, observed similar snowfall total trends in data obtained nationwide from 1948 through 2006; the data points varied seasonally and regionally, with totals mostly decreasing along coastal areas in the Northeast. Art DeGaetano of Cornell University cited similar data showing regions around N.Y. recording negative trends in snowfall since 1970.
One of the hardest-hit commercial sectors has - predictably - been the ski industry. Said one official from the Hudson Valley Ski Club commenting on the effect of the last few years' erratic winters on skiers' minds: "They look out their window and they're not thinking skiing." We don't blame them.
Via ::Associated Press: Study: Northeast Winters Warming Fast(news website)