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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2017-91
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
06 Nov 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).
Assessments of the north hemisphere snow cover response to 1.5 °C and 2.0 °C warming
Aihui Wang, Lianlian Xu, and Xianghui Kong Nansen-Zhu International Research Centre, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100029, China
Abstract. The 2015 Paris Agreement has initialed a goal to pursue the global-mean temperature below 1.5 °C, and well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. As an important surface hydrology variable, the response of snow under different warming levels has not been well investigated. The community earth system model (CESM) project towards 1.5 °C and 2 °C warming targets, combined with CESM large Ensemble project (CESM-LE) brings an opportunity to address this issue. This study provides a comprehensive assessment of snow cover fraction (SCF) and snow area extent (SAE), and the associated Land Surface Air Temperature (LSAT) over North Hemisphere (NH) based on CESM-LE, CESM 1.5 °C and 2 °C projects, as well as CMIP5 historical, RCP2.6 and RCP4.5 products. Results show that the spatiotemporal variations of those modeled products are grossly consistent with the observation. The projected SAE magnitude change in RCP2.6 is comparable to that in 1.5 °C, but lower than that in 2 °C. The snow cover differences between 1.5 °C and 2 °C are prominent during the second half of 21st century. Changes in the LSAT and snow cover for 2071–2100 with respect to 1971–2000 exhibit the inconsistently spatial patterns. The contribution of increase in LSAT on the reduction of snow cover differs across seasons with the greatest in boreal autumn (49–55 %) and the lowest in boreal summer (10–16 %). The snow cover uncertainties induced by the ensemble variability show time invariant across CESM members, but increase with the warming signal among CMIP5 models. This feature reveals that the model physical parameterization plays a predominant role on the long-term snow simulations, while they are less affect by the climate internal variability.

Citation: Wang, A., Xu, L., and Kong, X.: Assessments of the north hemisphere snow cover response to 1.5 °C and 2.0 °C warming, Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2017-91, in review, 2017.
Aihui Wang et al.
Aihui Wang et al.

Data sets

MODIS/Aqua Snow Cover Daily L3 Global 0.05 CMG, Version 6
D. K. Hall and G. A. Riggs
https://doi.org/10.5067/MODIS/MYD10C1.006
NOAA Climate Data Record (CDR) of Northern Hemisphere (NH) Snow Cover Extent (SCE), Version 1
D. A. Robinson, T. W. Estilow, and N. C. Program
https://doi.org/10.7289/V5N014G9
Aihui Wang et al.

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Short summary
The snow cover fraction (SCF) and Land Surface Air Temperature (LSAT) from CESM 1.5 °C and 2 °C projects, and CMIP5 models are assessed. The 1.5 °C warming target leads to the increase in snow after 2050, and is comparable to that in RCP2.6. The contribution of increase in LSAT on the reduction of SFC differs across seasons (49–55 % in autumn, and 10–16 % in summer). The model physical parameterization plays a predominant role on the snow projections, triggered by the climate internal variability.
The snow cover fraction (SCF) and Land Surface Air Temperature (LSAT) from CESM 1.5 °C and 2 °C...
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