A 258-year record of precipitation as snow from tree-rings, Southern Coast Mountains, British Columbia




MacKinnon, Stuart James

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In Pacific North America, a substantial amount of the streamflow available during the dry summer months originates from melting mountain snowpacks. Since the start of the twenty-first century, these mountain snowpacks have been declining due to the impacts of global climate change and could have severe implications for future water availability in many regions. To develop robust predictive models of future water availability derived from mountainous snowpacks, the longest possible data record is required. However, instrumental data for snow measurements, when available, are limited to a length of only five or six decades in most regions of Pacific North America. In this study, tree-rings from snow-depth sensitive tree species (mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana (Bong.) Carrière) and subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa (Hook.) Nutt.)) were used as a proxy to develop a 258-year record of precipitation as snow (PAS) for the southern Coast Mountains of British Columbia. Four snow models were evaluated based on a suite of dendroclimatological model diagnostics. From these, one PAS reconstruction was carried out. The reconstruction was unable to properly validate using the leave-one-out cross validation method. This result is attributed to the combination of a short calibration period, a potentially weak climate signal, and the absence of signal enhancement. Despite this outcome the research resulted in number of inferences and recommendations useful for future research.



dendroclimatology, precipitation as snow, mountain snowpack, southern Coast Mountains, British Columbia, dendrohydrology