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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-289
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-289
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  12 Oct 2020

12 Oct 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Observed snow depth trends in the European Alps 1971 to 2019

Michael Matiu1, Alice Crespi1, Giacomo Bertoldi2, Carlo Maria Carmagnola3, Christoph Marty4, Samuel Morin3, Wolfgang Schöner5, Daniele Cat Berro6, Gabriele Chiogna7,8, Ludovica De Gregorio1, Sven Kotlarski9, Bruno Majone10, Gernot Resch5, Silvia Terzago11, Mauro Valt12, Walter Beozzo13, Paola Cianfarra14, Isabelle Gouttevin3, Giorgia Marcolini8, Claudia Notarnicola1, Marcello Petitta1,15, Simon C. Scherrer9, Ulrich Strasser8, Michael Winkler16, Marc Zebisch1, Andrea Cicogna17, Roberto Cremonini18, Andrea Debernardi19,20, Mattia Faletto18, Mauro Gaddo13, Lorenzo Giovannini10, Luca Mercalli6, Jean-Michel Soubeyroux21, Andrea Sušnik22, Alberto Trenti13, Stefano Urbani23, and Viktor Weilguni24 Michael Matiu et al.
  • 1Institute for Earth Observation, Eurac Research, Bolzano, 39100, Italy
  • 2Institute for Alpine Environment, Eurac Research, Bolzano, 39100, Italy
  • 3Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Université de Toulouse, Météo-France, CNRS, CNRM, Centre d’Etudes de la Neige, Grenoble, 38000, France
  • 4Winter Sports and Climate, WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos, 7260, Switzerland
  • 5Department of Geography and Regional Sciences, University of Graz, Graz, 8010, Austria
  • 6Società Meteorologica Italiana, Moncalieri, 10024, Italy
  • 7Chair of Hydrology and River Basin Management, Technical University Munich, Munich, 80333, Germany
  • 8Department of Geography,University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, 6020, Austria
  • 9Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, Zurich-Airport, 8058, Switzerland
  • 10Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering, University of Trento, Trento, 38123, Italy
  • 11Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, National Research Council, (CNR-ISAC), Turin, 10133, Italy
  • 12Centro Valanghe di Arabba, Arabba, 32020, Italy
  • 13Meteotrentino, Provincia Autonoma di Trento, Trento, 38122, Italy
  • 14Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell'Ambiente e della Vita-DISTAV, Universitàdegli Studi di Genova, Genova, 16132, Italy
  • 15SSPT-MET-CLIM, ENEA, Rome, 00123, Italy
  • 16ZAMG, Innsbruck, 6020, Austria
  • 17ARPA Friuli Venezia Giulia, Palmanova, 33057, Italy
  • 18ARPA Piemonte, Torino, 10135, Italy
  • 19Assetto idrogeologico dei bacini montani, Region Valle d'Aosta, Aosta, 11100 Italy
  • 20Fondazione Montagna sicura, Courmayeur, 11013, Italy
  • 21Météo-France, Direction de la Climatologie et des Services Climatiques, Toulouse, 31057, France
  • 22Meteorology Office, Slovenian Environment Agency, Ljubljana, 1000, Slovenia
  • 23Centro Nivometeorologico, ARPA Lombardia, Bormio, 23032, Italy
  • 24Abteilung I/3 - Wasserhaushalt (HZB), BMLRT, Vienna, 1010, Austria

Abstract. The European Alps stretch over a range of climate zones, which affect the spatial distribution of snow. Previous analyses of station observations of snow were confined to regional analyses. Here, we present an Alpine wide analysis of snow depth from six Alpine countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, and Switzerland; including altogether more than 2000 stations. Using a principal component analysis and k-means clustering, we identified five main modes of variability and five regions, which match the climatic forcing zones: north and high Alpine, northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest. Linear trends of mean monthly snow depth between 1971 to 2019 showed decreases in snow depth for 87 % of the stations. December to February trends were on average −1.1 cm decade−1 (min, max: −10.8, 4.4; elevation range 0–1000 m), −2.5 (−25.1, 4.4; 1000–2000 m) and −0.1 (−23.3, 9.9; 2000–3000 m), with stronger trends in March to May: −0.6 (−10.9, 1.0; 0–1000 m), −4.6 (−28.1, 4.1; 1000–2000 m) and −7.6 (−28.3, 10.5; 2000–3000 m). However, regional trends differed substantially, which challenges the notion of generalizing results from one Alpine region to another or to the whole Alps. This study presents an analysis of station snow depth series with the most comprehensive spatial coverage in the European Alps to date.

Michael Matiu et al.

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Michael Matiu et al.

Data sets

Snow cover in the European Alps: Station observations of snow depth and depth of snowfall M. Matiu, A. Crespi, G. Bertoldi, C. M. Carmagnola, S. Morin, S. Kotlarski, M. Valt, W. Beozzo, P. Cianfarra, I. Gouttevin, S. C. Scherrer, A. Cicogna, M. Gaddo, J.-M. Soubeyroux, A. Sušnik, A. Trenti, S. Urbani, and V. Weilguni https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4064129

Model code and software

Snow cover in the European Alps: Station observations of snow depth and depth of snowfall (Version v1.0) M. Matiu, A. Crespi, G. Bertoldi, C. M. Carmagnola, S. Morin, S. Kotlarski, M. Valt, W. Beozzo, P. Cianfarra, I. Gouttevin, S. C. Scherrer, A. Cicogna, M. Gaddo, J.-M. Soubeyroux, A. Sušnik, A. Trenti, S. Urbani, and V. Weilguni https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4064129

Michael Matiu et al.

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Short summary
The first alpine wide assessment of observed station snow depth trends 1971 to 2019, enabled by a research community effort, involves six countries and more than 2000 stations. This presents the most spatially comprehensive analysis to date, which shows reduced snow depth in most stations in winter, with stronger trends in spring. The differences in observed trends between north and south or east and west is likely caused by the diverse climatic influences in the European Alps.
The first alpine wide assessment of observed station snow depth trends 1971 to 2019, enabled by...
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