Date of Award

Winter 2007

Project Type


Program or Major

Earth Sciences: Geochemical Systems

Degree Name

Master of Science


Humans experience climate variability and climate change primarily through changes in weather at local and regional scales. In this work, changes in northeastern United States winter climate are documented using meteorological observations from 1965-2005. Spatial coherence analysis is utilized to remove stations with non-climatic influences from the analysis. Trends over the past four decades in snowfall, snow-covered days, mean, minimum, and maximum temperature are estimated using linear regression.

Northeastern United States regional winter maximum temperatures (+0.43 +/-.08°C/decade) are warming greater rate than minimum (+0.37 +/-0.10°C/decade) and mean (+0.39 +/-0.10°C/decade). Regional winter snowfall decreased by -2.5 +/-0.8 inches/decade. Overall snowfall decreases are greatest in December (-2.3 +/-0.5 inches/decade) and February (-1.1 +/-0.2 inches/decade). The reduction in winter snow-covered days (-2.6 +/-0.7 days/decade) is likely tied to increases in winter maximum temperature via a snow-albedo feedback. These results have important implications on the climate system, ecosystems, and society in the northeastern United States.