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  • Author or Editor: Lena M. Tallaksen x
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Pardeep Pall, Lena M. Tallaksen, and Frode Stordal

Abstract

Rain-on-snow (ROS) events are multivariate hydrometeorological phenomena that require a combination of rain and snowpack, with complex processes occurring on and within the snowpack. Impacts include floods and landslides, and rain may freeze within the snowpack or on bare ground, potentially affecting vegetation, wildlife, and permafrost. ROS events occur mainly in high-latitude and mountainous areas, where sparse observational networks hinder accurate quantification—as does a scale mismatch between coarse-resolution (50–100 km) reanalysis products and localized events. Variability in the rain–snow temperature threshold and temperature sensitivity of snowmelt adds additional uncertainty. Here the high-resolution (1 km) seNorge hydrometeorological dataset, capturing complex topography and drainage networks, is utilized to produce the first large-scale climatology of ROS events for mainland Norway. For daily data spanning 1957–2016, suitable rain and snowpack thresholds for defining ROS events are applied to construct ROS climatologies for 1961–90 and 1981–2010 and to investigate trends. Differing ROS characteristics are found, reflecting Norway’s diverse climates. Relative to 1961–90, events in the 1981–2010 period decrease most in the southwest low elevations in winter, southeast in spring, and north in summer (consistent with less snow cover in a warming climate) and increase most in the southwest high elevations, central mountains, and north in winter–spring (consistent with increased precipitation and/or more snow falling as rain in a warming climate). Winter–spring events also broadly correlate with the North Atlantic Oscillation, and the Scandinavia pattern—and more so with the Arctic Oscillation, particularly in the southern mountain region where long-term ROS trends are significant (+0.50 and +0.33 daily ROS counts per kilometer squared per decade for winter and spring).

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Daniel G. Kingston, James H. Stagge, Lena M. Tallaksen, and David M. Hannah

Abstract

Quantification of large-scale climate drivers of drought is necessary to understand better and manage these spatially extensive and often prolonged natural hazards. Here, this issue is advanced at the continental scale for Europe. Drought events are identified using two indices—the 6-month cumulative standardized precipitation and standardized precipitation evapotranspiration indices (SPI-6 and SPEI-6, respectively)—both calculated using the gridded Water and Global Change (WATCH) Forcing Dataset for 1958–2001. Correlation of monthly time series of the percentage of European area in drought with geopotential height for 1958–2001 indicates that a weakening of the prevailing westerly circulation is associated with drought onset. Such conditions are linked to variations in the eastern Atlantic/western Russia (EA/WR) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) atmospheric circulation patterns. Event-based analysis of the most widespread European droughts reveals that a higher number are identified by the SPEI-6 than the SPI-6, with SPEI-6 drought events showing a greater variety of spatial locations and start dates. Atmospheric circulation drivers also vary between the two types of events, with EA/WR-type variation associated most frequently with SPEI-6 drought, and the NAO associated with SPI-6. This distinction reflects the sensitivity of these drought indices to the underlying drought type (meteorological water balance versus precipitation, respectively) and associated differences in their timing and location (Europe-wide year round versus northern Europe winter). As such, this study provides new insight into both the identification of Europe-wide drought and patterns of large-scale climate variation associated with two different drought indices.

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