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John M. Hanesiak
and
Xiaolan L. Wang

Abstract

This study provides an assessment of changes in the occurrence frequency of four types of adverse-weather (freezing precipitation, blowing snow, fog, and low ceilings) and no-weather (i.e., no precipitation or visibility obscuration) events as observed at 15 Canadian Arctic stations of good hourly weather observations for 1953–2004. The frequency time series were subjected to a homogenization procedure prior to a logistic regression–based trend analysis.

The results show that the frequency of freezing precipitation has increased almost everywhere across the Canadian Arctic since 1953. Rising air temperature in the region has probably resulted in more times that the temperature is suitable for freezing precipitation. On the contrary, the frequency of blowing snow occurrence has decreased significantly in the Canadian Arctic. The decline is most significant in spring. Changes in fog and low ceiling (LC) occurrences have similar patterns and are most (least) significant in summer (autumn). Decreases were identified for both types of events in the eastern region in all seasons. In the southwest, however, the fog frequency has increased significantly in all seasons, while the LC frequency has decreased significantly in spring and summer. The regional mean rate of change in the frequency of the four types of adverse weather was estimated to be 7%–13% per decade.

The frequency of no-weather events has also decreased significantly at most of the 15 sites. The decrease is most significant and extensive in autumn. Comparison with the adverse-weather trends above indicates that the decline in no-weather occurrence (i.e., increase in weather occurrence) is not the result of an increase in blowing snow or fog occurrence; it is largely the result of the increasing frequency of freezing precipitation and, most likely, other types of precipitation as well. This is consistent with the reported increases in precipitation amount and more frequent cyclone activity in the lower Canadian Arctic.

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