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Linear trends of the length of snow-cover season in the Northern Hemisphere as observed by the satellites in the period 1972–2000

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The dataset of Northern Hemisphere EASE-Grid weekly snow cover and sea-ice extent (U. S. National Snow and Ice Data Center) for the period September 1972–August 2000 is analyzed to examine the possible influence of recent global warming on the seasonal change of snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere. It is found that the total snow-cover area in the 1980s and 1990s is diminished by 3 × 106 km2, and the length of snow-cover season is reduced by 2–3 weeks, as compared with the 1970s. In general, the contribution from earlier snowmelt is greater than that from delayed snow accumulation. In addition, the maximum snow-cover area during January–February has gradually decreased by about 3 × 106 km2 within the two decades. Geographically, the rate of decrease of snow-cover duration is <0.1 week per year (wpy) in the high-latitude regions such as the Siberian Plains and Northwest Territories of Canada and >0.2 wpy in the high-elevation regions such as the Scandinavian Peninsula, Tibetan Plateau and Rocky Mountains. The earlier snowmelt in the high-elevation regions suggests that the snowfall amounts there are decreasing owing to global warming.

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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