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AGU: Geophysical Research Letters

 

Keywords

  • Arctic
  • CMIP5
  • snow cover extent
  • trends

Index Terms

  • 0736 - Snow
  • 1621 - Cryospheric change

Paper in Press

GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, doi:10.1029/2012GL053387

Spring snow cover extent reductions in the 2008-2012 period exceeding climate model projections

Key Points
  • N. Hemisphere spring snow cover extent reductions since 1967 are significant
  • Rate of June snow loss exceeds the rate of September sea ice loss (1979-2011)
  • Snow reductions since 2005 exceed an ensemble of CMIP5 simulations

Authors:

Chris Derksen

Ross Brown

Analysis of Northern Hemisphere spring terrestrial snow cover extent (SCE) from the NOAA snow chart Climate Data Record (CDR) for the April to June period (when snow cover is mainly located over the Arctic) has revealed statistically significant reductions in May and June SCE. Successive records for the lowest June SCE have been set each year for Eurasia since 2008, and in 4 of the past 5 years for North America. The rate of loss of June snow cover extent since 1979 (-21.5% decade-1) is greater than the loss of September sea ice extent (-10.8% decade-1) over the same period. Analysis of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) model output shows the marked reductions in June SCE observed since 2005 fall below the zone of model consensus defined by +/-1 standard deviation from the multi-model ensemble mean.

Received 30 July 2012; accepted 9 September 2012.

Citation: Derksen, C. and R. Brown (2012), Spring snow cover extent reductions in the 2008-2012 period exceeding climate model projections, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2012GL053387, in press.