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Comparison of interannual snowmelt-onset dates with atmospheric conditions

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The snowmelt-onset date represents an important transitional point in the Arctic surface energy balance, when albedo decreases and energy absorption increases rapidly in response to the appearance of liquid water. Interannual variations in snowmelt onset are likely related to large-scale variations in atmospheric circulation, such as described by the Arctic Oscillation (AO). This research therefore examines the relationship between monthly-averaged AO values and mean annual snowmelt-onset dates over Arctic sea ice in 13 regions, from 1979 to 1998. The objective is to statistically relate variations in mean annual regional snowmelt-onset dates to variations in the AO. Additionally, monthly-averaged 500 hPa heights and 2 m air temperatures are used to illustrate a physical link between snowmelt onset and a positive AO phase. Regression analyses demonstrate that variations in the AO explain a significant portion of the variations in snowmelt onset in the West Central Arctic, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea, Hudson Bay and Baffin Bay. Synoptic analyses suggest earlier (later) than average snowmelt onset occurs where warm (cold) air advection and increased (decreased) cyclonic activity are present.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2001-01-01

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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