Future precipitation changes in a warming climate depend regionally upon the response of natural climate modes to anthropogenic forcing. North Pacific hydroclimate is dominated by the Aleutian Low, a semi-permanent wintertime feature characterized by frequent low-pressure conditions that is influenced by tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures through the Pacific-North American (PNA) teleconnection pattern. Instrumental records show a recent increase in coastal Alaskan precipitation and Aleutian Low intensification, but are of insufficient length to accurately assess low frequency trends and forcing mechanisms. Here we present a 1200-year seasonally- to annually-resolved ice core record of snow accumulation from Mt. Hunter in the Alaska Range developed using annual layer counting and four ice-flow thinning models. Under a wide range of glacier flow conditions and layer counting uncertainty, our record shows a doubling of precipitation since ~1840 CE, with recent values exceeding the variability observed over the past millennium. The precipitation increase is nearly synchronous with the warming of western tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean sea surface temperatures. While regional 20th Century warming may account for a portion of the observed precipitation increase on Mt. Hunter, the magnitude and seasonality of the precipitation change indicate a long-term strengthening of the Aleutian Low.
Dartmouth Digital Commons Citation
Winski, Dominic; Osterberg, Erich; Ferris, David; Kreutz, Karl; Wake, Cameron; Campbell, Seth; Hawley, Robert; Roy, Samuel; Birkel, Sean; Introne, Douglas; and Handley, Michael, "Industrial-Age Doubling of Snow Accumulation in the Alaska Range Linked to Tropical Ocean Warming" (2017). Open Dartmouth: Peer-reviewed articles by Dartmouth faculty. 2827.