My research has the following major themes of investigation:
1) Studying the Effect of 20th and 21st Century Climate Change on the Ski Resorts in Western North America
Average global temperatures of our planet have increased by about 1° Celsius since the pre-industrial era. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) believes the continued emission of greenhouse gases by human activity will further increase average global temperatures by 1.1 to 6.4° Celsius by the end of the 21st century. This change in the Earth’s climate is predicted to have profound effects on many components of human systems. Being able to predict how global warming will modify human systems is important for developing adaptation and mitigation strategies. One human system that will be detrimentally influenced by warmer temperatures and changes in precipitation is recreational skiing. To date, research on the effect of global warming on recreational skiing has been rudimentary. The reason for this is the lack of quality climate data for analysis. This research project will use newly available climate data (ClimateBC and ClimateNA) to determine the effect of global warming on selected ski resorts in Western North America. The main goal of this research will be to answer the following six questions.
a) How did 20th century global warming affect ski resorts in Western North America in terms of temperature and snowfall?
b) How will global warming in the 21st century affect these same ski resorts in terms of temperature and snowfall?
c) Has 20th century human caused climate change shortened the length of the ski season at ski resorts in Western North America?
d) How will 21st century human caused climate change influence the length of the ski season at ski resorts in Western North America?
e) How will patterns of snowfall and rainfall change at ski resorts in Western North America?
f) How will future warming daily minimum temperature influence the making of artificial snow at ski resorts?
2) The Influence of El Niño and La Niña on Winter Climate Conditions at Ski Resorts in Western North America
This research examines the influence El Niño and La Niña have on the climate conditions of ski resorts in western North America. Data for this work will be generated by the historical datasets found in ClimateBC and ClimateNA. The main goal of the research will be to answer the following two questions. Do El Niño and La Niña have an influence on the climate conditions of ski resorts in western North America? Does this influence have a geographical component? Can we use our ability to forecast the occurrence of these events to predict winter conditions at ski resorts in western North America?
3) Determining how Climatic Event Know as The Blob Influenced Weather and Climate Conditions at Ski Resorts in Western North America
The winter of 2014-2015 will go down as “the year without a ski season” for many ski resorts located near the west coast of Canada and the USA. During this winter season, a large area of the eastern North Pacific Ocean had extremely high sea surface temperatures. These high sea surface temperatures, called the the Blob, influenced weather patterns on the west coast of North America producing very mild winter temperatures inland, In alpine environments precipitation that normally arrives in the form of snow, often instead fell as rain. I would like to examine the weather and climate characteristics of the winter of 2014-2015 in greater detail to see how ski resorts across western North America were influence. Some of this work is being done my graduate student Kalim Bahbahani towards a MSc degree in Earth and Environmental Science.
If you are a potential student who would like to pursue graduate work (MSc and PhD) dealing with climate change impact assessment please contact me at:
Dr. Michael Pidwirny, Associate Professor
Department of Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences
Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences
University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus
Science Building, 1177 Research Road
Kelowna, British Columbia
CANADA V1V 1V7