Five decades of warming: impacts on snow cover in Norway
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Northern latitudes are experiencing faster warming than other regions in the world, which is partly explained by the snow albedo feedback. In Norway, mean temperatures have been increasing since the 1990s, with 2014 being the warmest year on record, 2.2 °C above normal (1961–1990). At the same time, a concurrent reduction in the land area covered by snow has been reported. In this study, we present a detailed spatial and temporal (monthly and seasonal) analysis of trends and changes in snow indices based on a high resolution (1 km) gridded hydro-meteorological dataset for Norway (seNorge). During the period 1961–2010, snow cover extent (SCE) was found to decrease, notably at the end of the snow season, with a corresponding decrease in snow water equivalent except at high elevations. SCE for all Norway decreased by more than 20,000 km2 (6% of the land area) between the periods 1961–1990 and 1981–2010, mainly north of 63° N. Overall, air temperature increased in all seasons, with the highest increase in spring (particularly in April) and winter. Mean monthly air temperatures were significantly correlated with the monthly SCE, suggesting a positive land–atmosphere feedback enhancing warming in winter and spring.