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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
06 Nov 2014
Review status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). The revised manuscript was not accepted.
Snow mass decrease in the Northern Hemisphere (1979/80–2010/11)
Z. Li1, J. Liu1,2, L. Huang1, N. Wang3, B. Tian1, J. Zhou1, Q. Chen1, and P. Zhang1 1Key Laboratory of Digital Earth Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 10094, China
2Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China
3Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, 730000, China
Abstract. Snow cover has a key effect on climate change and hydrological cycling, as well as water supply to a sixth of the world's population across the Northern Hemisphere. However, reliable data on trends in snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is lacking. Snow water equivalent (SWE) is a common measure of the amount of equivalent water of the snow pack. Here we verify the accuracy of three existing global SWE products and merge the most accurate aspects of them to generate a new SWE product covering the last 32 years (1979/80–2010/11). Using this new SWE product, we show that there has been a significant decreasing trend in the total mass of snow in the Northern Hemisphere. The most notable changes in total snow mass are −16.45 ± 6.68 and −13.55 ± 7.80 Gt year−1 in January and February, respectively. These are followed by March and December, which have trends of −12.58 ± 6.88 and −10.70 ± 5.62 Gt year−1, respectively, from 1979/80 to 2010/11. During the same period, the temperature in the study area raised 0.17 °C decade−1, which is thought to be the main reason of SWE decline.

Citation: Li, Z., Liu, J., Huang, L., Wang, N., Tian, B., Zhou, J., Chen, Q., and Zhang, P.: Snow mass decrease in the Northern Hemisphere (1979/80–2010/11), The Cryosphere Discuss., 8, 5623-5644, doi:10.5194/tcd-8-5623-2014, 2014.
Z. Li et al.
Z. Li et al.


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Short summary
In this manuscript, we verified the snow water equivalent (SWE) products with large amounts of ground stations and generated an optimized SWE product covering (1979/80-2010/11). Using the optimized product it was found that the SWE is significantly decreasing in the past 32 years, and the decreasing is closely related to temperature rising.
In this manuscript, we verified the snow water equivalent (SWE) products with large amounts of...