Multi-Decadal Changes in Snow Characteristics in Sub-Arctic Sweden
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A unique long term, 49-year record (divided into three time periods 1961–1976, 1977–1992, and 1993–2009) of snow profile stratigraphy from the Swedish sub Arctic, was analyzed with a focus on changes in snow characteristics. The data set contained grain size, snow layer hardness, grain compactness, and snow layer dryness, observed every second week during the winter season. The results showed an increase in very hard snow layers, with harder snow in early winter and more moist snow during spring. There was a striking increase in the number of observations with very hard snow at ground level over time. More than twice as many occasions with hard snow at ground level were observed between 1993 and 2009 compared to previous years, which may have a significant effect on plants and animals. The changes in snow characteristics are most likely a result of the increasing temperatures during the start and the end of the snow season.
KeywordsSnowpack stratigraphy Snow profile Climate change Snow layer hardness Ice layers
We thank the observers at the Abisko Station for their dedication to collecting the data used in this study—often over many years and under difficult field conditions. We also thank Johan Wiksten for digitizing the data and Hans Bergström for valuable discussions. The rescue of old data archives is part of the IPY project No 512 Back to the Future supported by a Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas) grant (214-2008-188) and the Swedish National Space Board (70/07:1, 70/07:2, 116/09:1, 116/09:2). TVC also gratefully acknowledges Formas for the grants 214-2008-188 and 214-2009-389.
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