Seasonal cycle of the snow coverage in the former Soviet Union and its relation with atmospheric circulation

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Historical snow-depth observations in the former Soviet Union (FSU) during the period September 1960–August 1984 have been analyzed in order to understand the seasonal cycle of snow coverage in the FSU. Snow cover first appears in September in northeastern regions, and spreads over the entire territory before early January. Snowmelt begins in mid-January in the southern regions and then snow cover retreats rapidly northward until it disappears completely before late June. Northward of 60° N, the land surface is snow-covered for more than half the year. The longest snow-cover duration is observed on the central Siberian plateau (about 9.5 months) and along the Arctic coastal regions (about 8.5 months). One of the most conspicuous features of the snow coverage in the FSU is that the length of the snow-accumulation period differs considerably from region to region (2–7 months), while the length of the snowmelt period is rather short and uniform over almost the entire territory (1–2 months). Although the maximum snow depths are 20–50 cm in most regions of the FSU, they exceed 80cm in the mountainous regions in central Siberia, Kamchatka peninsula, and along the Yenisei river valley. Values for the maximum snow depth are very small along the Lena river valley in spite of the air temperature being extremely low in winter. By calculating correlation coefficients between the snowfall intensities and the sea-level pressures or 500 hPa heights, it is shown that deep snow along the Yenisei river valley is caused by frequent migration of synoptic disturbances from the Arctic Ocean. Snowfalls along the Lena river valley are also caused by traveling disturbances from the Arctic Ocean. Snow accumulation is suppressed after the Arctic Ocean has been frozen.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2004

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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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