The Effect of Snow Cover on the Climate

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  • 1 Department of Geological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York
  • | 2 NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York
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Abstract

Large-scale snow cover anomalies are thought to cause significant changes in the diabatic heating of the earth's surface in such a way as to produce substantial local cooling in the surface temperatures. This theory was tested using the GISS 3-D GCM (General Circulation Model). The results of the GCM experiment showed that snow cover caused only a short term local decrease in the surface temperature. In the surface energy budget, reduction in absorbed shortwave radiation and the increased latent heat sink of melting snow contributed to lower temperatures. However, all the remaining heating terms contribute to increasing the net heating over a snow covered surface. The results emphasize the negative feedback which limits the impact of snow cover anomalies over longer time scales.

Abstract

Large-scale snow cover anomalies are thought to cause significant changes in the diabatic heating of the earth's surface in such a way as to produce substantial local cooling in the surface temperatures. This theory was tested using the GISS 3-D GCM (General Circulation Model). The results of the GCM experiment showed that snow cover caused only a short term local decrease in the surface temperature. In the surface energy budget, reduction in absorbed shortwave radiation and the increased latent heat sink of melting snow contributed to lower temperatures. However, all the remaining heating terms contribute to increasing the net heating over a snow covered surface. The results emphasize the negative feedback which limits the impact of snow cover anomalies over longer time scales.

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