Snow Cover Distribution, Variability, and Response to Climate Change in Western China

Qin Dahe Key Laboratory of Cryosphere and Environment, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Chinese Academy of Meteorological Science, Chinese Meteorological Administration, Lanzhou, China

Search for other papers by Qin Dahe in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Liu Shiyin Key Laboratory of Cryosphere and Environment, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Chinese Academy of Meteorological Science, Chinese Meteorological Administration, Lanzhou, and Tibetan Plateau Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Search for other papers by Liu Shiyin in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
, and
Li Peiji Key Laboratory of Cryosphere and Environment, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Chinese Academy of Meteorological Science, Chinese Meteorological Administration, Lanzhou, China

Search for other papers by Li Peiji in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Restricted access

Abstract

A study is presented of the geographical distribution and spatial and temporal variabilities of the western China snow cover in the past 47 yr between 1951 and 1997. The data used consist of Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR) 6-day snow-depth charts, NOAA weekly snow extent charts, and the daily snow depth and number of snow cover days from 106 selected meteorological stations across western China. Empirical orthogonal function was performed on the SMMR dataset to better understand the spatial pattern and variability of the Qinghai–Xizang (Tibet) snow cover. A multiple linear regression analysis was conducted to show the association of interannual variations between snow cover and snow season temperature as well as precipitation. Further, the autoregressive moving average model was fitted to the snow and climate time series to test for their long-term trends. Results show that western China did not experience a continual decrease in snow cover during the great warming period of the 1980s and 1990s. It is of interest to note that no correlation was identified between temperature and precipitation in the snow cover season. However, year-to-year fluctuation of snow cover responds to both snowfall and snow season temperature. About one-half to two-thirds of the total variance in snow cover is explained by the linear variations of snowfall and snow season temperature. The long-term variability of western China snow cover is characterized by a large interannual variation superimposed on a small increase trend. The positive trend of the western China snow cover is consistent with increasing snowfall, but is in contradiction to regional warming. In addition, many constraints of the Qinghai–Xizang (Tibet) snow cover force the author’s challenge of Blanford’s hypothesis.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Liu Shiyin, Key Laboratory of Cryosphere and Environment, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China. Email: liusy@lzb.ac.cn

Abstract

A study is presented of the geographical distribution and spatial and temporal variabilities of the western China snow cover in the past 47 yr between 1951 and 1997. The data used consist of Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR) 6-day snow-depth charts, NOAA weekly snow extent charts, and the daily snow depth and number of snow cover days from 106 selected meteorological stations across western China. Empirical orthogonal function was performed on the SMMR dataset to better understand the spatial pattern and variability of the Qinghai–Xizang (Tibet) snow cover. A multiple linear regression analysis was conducted to show the association of interannual variations between snow cover and snow season temperature as well as precipitation. Further, the autoregressive moving average model was fitted to the snow and climate time series to test for their long-term trends. Results show that western China did not experience a continual decrease in snow cover during the great warming period of the 1980s and 1990s. It is of interest to note that no correlation was identified between temperature and precipitation in the snow cover season. However, year-to-year fluctuation of snow cover responds to both snowfall and snow season temperature. About one-half to two-thirds of the total variance in snow cover is explained by the linear variations of snowfall and snow season temperature. The long-term variability of western China snow cover is characterized by a large interannual variation superimposed on a small increase trend. The positive trend of the western China snow cover is consistent with increasing snowfall, but is in contradiction to regional warming. In addition, many constraints of the Qinghai–Xizang (Tibet) snow cover force the author’s challenge of Blanford’s hypothesis.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Liu Shiyin, Key Laboratory of Cryosphere and Environment, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China. Email: liusy@lzb.ac.cn

Save
  • Aizen, V. B., E. M. Aizen, J. M. Melack, and J. Dozier, 1997: Climatic and hydrologic changes in the Tianshan, Central Asia. J. Climate, 10 , 13931404.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Balling Jr., R. C., and C. D. Idso, 2002: Analysis of adjustments to the United States historical climatology network (USHCN) temperature database. Geophys. Res. Lett., 29 .1387, doi:10.1029/2002GL014825.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bamzai, A. S., and J. Shukla, 1999: Relation between snow cover, snow depth, and the Indian summer monsoon: An observational study. J. Climate, 12 , 31173132.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barnett, T. P., L. Dumenil, U. Schlese, and E. Roeckner, 1988: The effect of Eurasian snow cover on global climate. Science, 239 , 504507.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barnett, T. P., L. Dumenil, U. Schlese, and E. Roeckner, 1989: The effect of Eurasian snow cover on regional and global climate variations. J. Atmos. Sci., 46 , 661685.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Blanford, H. F., 1884: On the connection of the Himalayan snowfall with dry winds and seasons of drought in India. Proc. Roy. Soc. London, 37 , 322.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brown, R. D., M. G. Hughes, and D. A. Robinson, 1996: Characterizing the long-term variability of snow cover, 1915–1992. J. Climate, 9 , 12991318.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chang, A. T. C., J. L. Foster, and D. K. Hall, 1987: Nimbus-7 SMMR derived global snow cover parameters. Ann. Glaciol., 9 , 3944.

  • Chang, A. T. C., D. A. Robinson, L. Peiji, and C. Meishing, 1992: The use of microwave radiometer data for characterizing snow storage in western China. Ann. Glaciol., 16 , 215219.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Clark, M. R., M. C. Serreze, and D. A. Robinson, 1999: Atmospheric controls on Eurasian snow extent. Int. J. Climatol., 19 , 2740.

  • Davis, C., C. Kluever, and B. Haines, 1998: Elevation change of the southern Greenland ice sheet. Science, 279 , 20862088.

  • Goodison, B. E., V. S. Golubev, T. Gunter, and B. Sevruk, 1992: Preliminary results of the WMO solid precipitation measurement intercomparison. Proc. WMO Technical Conf. on Instruments and Methods of Observation, Vienna, Austria, WMO, 161–165.

  • Groisman, P. Y., T. R. Karl, and R. W. Knight, 1994: Observed impact of snow cover on the heat balance and the rise of continental spring temperatures. Science, 263 , 198200.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hahn, D. G., and J. Shukla, 1976: An apparent relationship between Eurasian snow cover and Indian monsoon rainfall. J. Atmos. Sci., 33 , 24612462.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Houghton, J. T., L. G. Meira Filho, B. A. Callender, N. Harris, A. Kattenberg, and K. Maskell, 1996: Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, 572 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hurrell, J. W., 1995: Decadal trends in the North Atlantic Oscillation: Regional temperatures and precipitation. Science, 269 , 676679.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jones, P. D., M. New, D. E. Parker, S. Martin, and I. C. Rigor, 1999: Surface air temperature and its changes over the past 150 year. Rev. Geophys., 37 , 173199.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Karl, T. R., P. Y. Groisman, R. W. Knight, and R. R. Heim, 1993: Recent variations of snow cover and snowfall in North America and their relation to precipitation and temperature variations. J. Climate, 6 , 13271344.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Konig, M., J. G. Winther, and E. Isaksson, 2001: Measuring snow and glacier properties from satellite. Rev. Geophys., 39 , 127.

  • Kushnir, Y., 1999: Europe’s winter prospects. Nature, 398 , 289290.

  • Leathers, D. J., T. L. Mote, K. C. Kaivinen, and S. Mc Feeters, 1993: Temporal characteristics of USA snowfall 1945/1946 through to 1984/1985. Int. J. Climatol., 13 , 6576.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Li, P., 1994: Dynamic characteristics of snow cover in Western China. Snow and Ice Cover: Interactions with the Atmosphere and Ecosystems, H. G. Jones et al., Eds., IAHS Publication 223, 141–152.

  • Li, P., 1995: Response of Qinghai-Xizang (Tibet) snow cover to global warming. J. Chinese Geogr., 5 , 6976.

  • Moore, G. W. K., G. Holdsworth, and K. Alverson, 2002: Climate change in the North Pacific region over the past three centuries. Nature, 420 , 401403.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moron, V., 1997: Trend, decadal and interannual variability in annual rainfall of subequatorical and tropical North Africa (1900-1994). Int. J. Climatol., 17 , 785805.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mosley-Thompson, E. M., J. F. Paskievitch, A. J. Gow, and L. G. Thompson, 1999: Late 20th century increase in South Pole snow accumulation. J. Geophys. Res., 104 , D4. 38773886.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ohmura, A., M. Wild, and L. Bengtsson, 1996: A possible change in mass balance of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets in the coming century. J. Climate, 9 , 24242435.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pollard, J. H., 1981: A Handbook of Numerical and Statistical Techniques. Cambridge University Press, 349 pp.

  • Przybylak, R., 2000: Temporal and spatial variation of surface air temperature over the period of instrumental observations in the Arctic. Int. J. Climatol., 20 , 587614.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Richman, M. B., 1986: Rotation of principal components: A review. J. Climatol., 6 , 293336.

  • Robinson, D. A., and K. F. Dewey, 1990: Recent secular variations in the extent of Northern Hemisphere snow cover. Geophys. Res. Lett., 17 , 15571560.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Robinson, D. A., K. Kunzi, G. Kukla, and H. Rott, 1984: Comparative utility of microwave and shortwave satellite data for all-weather charting of snow cover. Nature, 312 , 434435.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vaughan, D. G., J. L. Bamber, M. Giovinetto, J. Russell, and A. P. R. Cooper, 1999: Reassessment of net surface mass balance in Antarctica. J. Climate, 12 , 933946.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vernekar, A. D., J. Zhou, and J. Shukla, 1995: The effect of Eurasian snow cover on the Indian monsoon. J. Climate, 8 , 248266.

  • Walker, G. T., 1910: Correlation in seasonal variation of weather 11. Mem. Ind. Meteor. Dept., 21 , 2245.

  • Watson, R. T., M. C. Zinyowera, and R. H. Moss, 1996: Climate Change 1995: Impacts, Adaptation, and mitigation of Climate Change: Scientific–Technical Analyses. Cambridge University Press, 878 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Webster, P. J., V. O. Magaña, T. N. Palmer, J. Shukla, R. A. Tomas, M. Yanai, and T. Yasunari, 1998: Monsoons: Processes, predictability, and the prospects for prediction. J. Geophys. Res., 103 , C7. 1445114510.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Woodward, E. A., and H. L. Gray, 1993: Global warming and the problem of testing for trend in time series data. J. Climate, 6 , 953962.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yasunari, T., A. Kitoh, and T. Tokioka, 1991: Local and remote responses to excessive snow mass over Eurasia appearing in the northern spring and summer climate–A study with the MRI. J. Meteor. Soc. Japan, 69 , 473487.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ye, H., H. R. Cho, and P. E. Gustafson, 1998: The changes in Russian winter snow accumulation during 1936–83 and its spatial patterns. J. Climate, 11 , 856863.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zwiers, F. W., 1993: Simulation of the Asian summer monsoon with the CCC GCM-1. J. Climate, 6 , 470486.

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 2439 606 56
PDF Downloads 1646 405 40