Snow and albedo climate change impacts across the United States Northern Great Plains
Abstract. In areas with a seasonal snowpack, a warmer climate could cause less snowfall, a shallower snowpack, and a change in the timing of snowmelt, all which could reduce the winter albedo and yield an increase in net short-wave radiation. Trends in temperature, precipitation (total and as snow), days with precipitation and snow, and winter albedo were investigated over the 60-year period from 1951 to 2010 for 20 meteorological stations across the Northern Great Plains. This is an area where snow accumulation is shallow but persistent for most of the winter (November to March). The most consistent trends were minimum temperature and days with precipitation, both of which increased at a majority of the stations. Among the stations included, a decrease in the modelled winter albedo was more prevalent than an increase. There was substantial spatial variability in the climate trends. For most variables, the period of record used influenced the magnitude and sign of the significant trends.