The role of surface energy fluxes in pan-Arctic snow cover changes

Shi, X. , Groisman, P. Y., Déry, S. J. and Lettenmaier, D. P. (2011) The role of surface energy fluxes in pan-Arctic snow cover changes. Environmental Research Letters, 6(3), 035204. (doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/6/3/035204)

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We analyze snow cover extent (SCE) trends in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) northern hemisphere weekly satellite SCE data using the Mann–Kendall trend test and find that North American and Eurasian snow cover in the pan-Arctic have declined significantly in spring and summer over the period of satellite record beginning in the early 1970s. These trends are reproduced, both in trend direction and statistical significance, in reconstructions using the variable infiltration capacity (VIC) hydrological model. We find that spring and summer surface radiative and turbulent fluxes generated in VIC have strong correlations with satellite observations of SCE. We identify the role of surface energy fluxes and determine which is most responsible for the observed spring and summer SCE recession. We find that positive trends in surface net radiation (SNR) accompany most of the SCE trends, whereas modeled latent heat (LH) and sensible heat (SH) trends associated with warming on SCE mostly cancel each other, except for North America in spring, and to a lesser extent for Eurasia in summer. In spring over North America and summer in Eurasia, the SH contribution to the observed snow cover trends is substantial. The results indicate that ΔSNR is the primary energy source and ΔSH plays a secondary role in changes of SCE. Compared with ΔSNR and ΔSH, ΔLH has a minor influence on pan-Arctic snow cover changes.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Shi, Dr John Xiaogang
Authors: Shi, X., Groisman, P. Y., Déry, S. J., and Lettenmaier, D. P.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social & Environmental Sustainability
Journal Name:Environmental Research Letters
Publisher:IOP Publishing
ISSN (Online):1748-9326

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