Washington state’s Mount Shuksan in February 2014.
Washington state’s Mount Shuksan in February 2014.

A new study has found that a pattern of ocean temperatures and atmospheric circulation has offset most of the impact of global warming on mountain snowpack in the western U.S. since the 1980s.

The study from Oregon State University, the University of Washington and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was published Jan. 11 in Geophysical Research Letters.

“The western U.S. has received a big assist from natural variability over the past 35 years,” said lead author Nick Siler at Oregon State University, who began thinking about the project as a doctoral student in atmospheric sciences at the UW. “That’s been great for us so far, but it’s bad news for the future.”

Cristian Proistosescu, a postdoctoral researcher at the UW’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean is one of the study’s co-authors, along with Stephen Po-Chedley, a former UW graduate student who is now a research fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Berkeley.

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