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Weather and Climate Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/wcd-2019-15
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/wcd-2019-15
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 18 Dec 2019

Submitted as: research article | 18 Dec 2019

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal WCD.

An attempt to explain recent trends in European snowfall extremes

Davide Faranda1,2 Davide Faranda
  • 1Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, UMR 8212 CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, IPSL, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 2London Mathematical Laboratory, 8 Margravine Gardens London, W6 8RH, UK

Abstract. The goal of this work is to investigate and explain recent trends in total yearly snow-depth and maximum yearly snow-depth from daily data in light of both the current global warming and the low-frequency variability of the atmospheric circulation. We focus on the period 1979–2018 and compare two different data-sets: the ERA5 reanalysis data and the E-OBSv19 S precipitation data, where snow-depth is identified from rainfall by applying a threshold on temperature. On one hand, we show that the decline in average snow-depth observed in almost all European regions is coherent with the mean global warming and previous findings. On the other hand, we observe contrasting trends in maxima. We argue that this apparent discrepancy between trends in average and maximum snow-depth comes from the subtle effects of atmospheric circulation in driving extreme events and the non-trivial relation with global warming: a warmer Mediterranean Sea may enhance convective precipitation in winter-time and trigger heavy snowfalls. We discuss the limitations of block-maxima indicators and of static identification of trends based on regional or grid-points analysis, paving the way for attributing changes in extreme snowfalls via analogs-based methods.

Davide Faranda

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Short summary
Despite the global temperature rise caused by anthropogenic emissions, we still observe snowstorms that cause casualties, transport disruptions as well as energy supply problems. The goal of this paper is to investigate recent trends in snowfalls from both ERA5 reanalysis and observational (EOBSv19.0) datasets. The analysis shows an evident discrepancy between trends in average and extreme snowfalls. The latter can only be explained by looking at the atmospheric circulation.
Despite the global temperature rise caused by anthropogenic emissions, we still observe...
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