A new report forecasting the impact of climate change on the Cairngorms National Park has warned the range will suffer a “substantial” decline in snow cover.
While snow levels are expected to remain the same for the next 10 years, from 2030 onwards there is likely to be a significant decline in the number of days of snow.
The report, published yesterday, also warned that “rapidly” melting snow could cause flooding in nearby areas over that period.
The research was commissioned by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) and ClimateXChange – Scotland’s centre of expertise regarding climate change research and policy.
Park board members will consider the findings at a meeting on Friday and decide on what steps to take to address the issues.
The study has been carried out by researchers at the James Hutton Institute and Scotland’s Rural College in Aberdeen, using historic temperature and precipitation data going back 100 years.
It found that global warming caused by increasing greenhouse gas emissions is impacting on snow cover as well as biodiversity in mountain areas across the world, and while there have been significant snow events in recent years, the overall trend is declining cover – with this predicted to continue and accelerate in the future.
Decreases in snow cover will have important consequences for the make-up and distribution of various species, potentially resulting in biodiversity loss.
The amount and temperature of ground water, streams and rivers, and reduced river flows in winter, will impact local water supplies and there is the potential for increased flooding due to rapid snow melt.
Chief Executive of the CNPA, Grant Moir, said: “The Cairngorms National Park has significant natural assets and we have the opportunity to set out an ambitious vision and programme of action to lead the way to a low carbon future that supports a nature-rich park, benefitting resilient local communities.
“I look forward to the board discussions around climate change and our proposed next steps at the meeting on Friday, where we will also consider what further research is required.
“Tackling climate change is set to be at the core of our next National Park Partnership Plan.”
The James Hutton Institute’s Mark Rivington said: “This report only looks at what rising temperatures may mean for the number of days with snow on the ground in the Cairngorms National Park.
“If we are successful in reducing emissions globally, we may moderate the impact.”
The CNPA is hosting a Climate Conference in Aviemore on March 9, 2020, with details available in the New Year.