Dr. Michael Goldstein, a professor of finance at Babson College and an Academic Advisor to The Brattle Group, co-authored a paper for the American Geophysical Union (AGU) assessing the monetary value of seasonal snow. Dr. Goldstein and his collaborators, Matthew Sturm of The University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute and Charles Parr of the Geophysical Institute, note that the ongoing changes in seasonal snowfall could lead to losses ranging from $1 trillion to $4.4 trillion in twenty years.
The paper highlights several specific industries and geographies that could be financially impacted by the decreasing levels of snowfall. In the American Southwest, for example, reduced snowmelt flowing into the Colorado River may result in $1 billion to $1 trillion in losses to agriculture and industry. The wide gap in these estimated costs is partially connected to the rate of change to snowfall and the value of water; small differences in both can lead to significant rises in costs.
Dr. Goldstein and his co-authors’ findings are particularly timely as they are predicated on several decades of falling snow levels and changing conditions. In addition to the financial costs of these changes, there are also environmental effects that lead to self-perpetuating issues. This research is intended to help members of the scientific community and key stakeholders identify necessary actions to combat the rising costs associated with changes in seasonal snow.
The paper has been accepted for publication in the AGU Journal Water Resources Research, and can be found here.