Ted Letcher
Regional Snow Albedo Feedback

The Snow Albedo Feedback


Mid-latitude mountain ranges are particularly sensitive to climate change via the snow albedo feedback (SAF). The SAF is a climate feedback present in regions of transient snow cover that amplifies the surface temperature response to a climate perturbation by changing the absorption of shortwave radiation at the surface. My current research involves using semi-idealized regional climate models to characterize and quantify the SAF in the Colorado Rockies in a warmed climate. Current findings suggest that the SAF is strongest during the spring months when changes in snow cover coincide with strong incoming solar radiation. Additionally, the SAF adds substantial interannual variability to the regional warming within the region.

Ongoing and Future Research

Current research is focused on investigating the interaction between the SAF and terrain driven mesoscale weather patterns. Additional research is being performed to evaluate the regional climate models used in this research with MODIS snow cover products.
Example: Evaluation of satellite and model snow cover fraction
Example: Summary plots of regional climate change experiemtns warming and snow loss

Publications and Conference Presentations

  • Minder, J.R., T.W. Letcher, and S. McKenzie Skiles In Review: Evaluation of high-resolution regional climate model simulations of snow cover and albedo over the Rocky Mountains, with implications for the simulated snow-albedo feedback. Journal of Geophysical Research (Atmospheres)

  • Theodore Letcher, and Justin R. Minder, 2015: Characterization of the Simulated Regional Snow Albedo Feedback Using a Regional Climate Model over Complex Terrain. Journal of Climate. URL

  • 16th Mountain Meteorology Conference (2014) -- Quantification of the snow albedo feedback in regional climate model simulations over the Rocky Mountains. Theodore Letcher, and Justin R. Minder Recorded Presentation