How Much Snow Falls In North America Every Year?

Posted: Mar 18 2018, 1:40pm CDT | by , Updated: Mar 18 2018, 1:44pm CDT, in Latest Science News


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How Much Snow Falls in North America Every Year?
Credit: Banff & Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

North America accumulates 1,200 cubic miles of snow each year, which is significantly higher than anticipated

North America gets a lot more snow than anyone expected. If the average annual snow is evenly spread across the continent, it will be around 7.5 inches thick. The amount is enough to bury the state of Ohio 150 feet deep.

In the first-of-its-kind study, researchers have estimated the total snow volume for the entire continent and found that North America accumulates about 1,200 cubic miles of snow every year, which is 50 percent higher than previous estimates. Prior studies suggested that the continent hold a little more than 750 cubic miles of snow each year.

Canadian Rockies alongside 10 other mountainous ranges gets most of the snow. They constitute only a 25 percent of the continent’s land mass and hold 60 percent of the snow. As millions of people rely on the fresh water sources of the continent, the study will help researchers to quantify the status of water and how to avoid its shortage.

"It's extremely important to know—not just so we can make estimates of available fresh water, but also because we don't fully understand Earth's water cycle." Michael Durand, associate professor of earth sciences at Ohio State said.

It's currently impossible to directly measure how much water is on the planet and how it is distributed. The new study targets one of the biggest gaps in scientists' understanding of Earth's water resources in the form of snow.

To get more precise estimate of annual snow accumulation, researchers combined different regional climate models and applied them on 11 North American mountain ranges including the Canadian Rockies, the Cascades, the Sierra Nevada and the Appalachian Mountain. The ice on those mountainous regions is equal to around 400 cubic miles of water.

"Each of these ranges is a huge part of the climate system," said Durand, "but I don't think we realized how important the Canadian Rockies really are. We hope that by drawing attention to the importance of the mountains, this work will help spur development in understanding how mountains fit into the large-scale picture."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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