Projected 21st century changes in snow water equivalent over Northern Hemisphere landmasses from the CMIP5 model ensemble
- Key Laboratory of Arid Climate Change and Disaster Reduction of Gansu Province, College of Atmospheric Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, 730000, China
Abstract. Changes in snow water equivalent (SWE) over Northern Hemisphere (NH) landmasses are investigated for the early (2016–2035), middle (2046–2065) and late (2080–2099) 21st century using a multi-model ensemble from 20 global climate models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). The multi-model ensemble was found to provide a realistic estimate of observed NH mean winter SWE compared to the GlobSnow product. The multi-model ensemble projects significant decreases in SWE over the 21st century for most regions of the NH for representative concentration pathways (RCPs) 2.6, 4.5 and 8.5. This decrease is particularly evident over the Tibetan Plateau and North America. The only region with projected increases is eastern Siberia. Projected reductions in mean annual SWE exhibit a latitudinal gradient with the largest relative changes over lower latitudes. SWE is projected to undergo the largest decreases in the spring period where it is most strongly negatively correlated with air temperature. The reduction in snowfall amount from warming is shown to be the main contributor to projected changes in SWE during September to May over the NH.