JC2/C13 Cold Regions Cryosphere and Hydrosphere (IACS, IAHS/ICSIH, IAMAS, IPA)

Joint Inter-Association Symposium

23-Jun-2015, 15:00 - 16:30

Abstract content:

Spatiotemporal changes in the Austrian snow cover 1948-2009

Snow depth and snow cover duration in the Alps are both characterized by a high spatial and temporal (interannual to decadal) variability, indicating a high sensitivity to climatic conditions. Knowledge of this natural variability and changes in snow conditions is essential for science and stakeholders not only to understand past and present snow conditions, but also for the interpretation of future snow scenarios. While instrumental time series of the relevant meteorological and snow cover variables are an important requisite for climate studies, generally only few long-term climate and snow observation time series are available, and their spatial representativity is mostly limited.

To improve the spatial density of snow information in Austria we use the hydroclimatological model AMUNDSEN to continuously simulate the daily snow cover evolution on a 1x1 km2 grid for the period 1948–2009. The model is driven with homogenized and quality-checked meteorological station recordings of daily minimum and maximum temperature and precipitation, and produces daily maps of snow water equivalent, snow depth, and fresh snow. Prior to the analysis of changes in the snow cover, the model is thoroughly validated using homogenized snow observations (point scale) as well as remotely sensed snow cover patterns.

The results are analyzed by investigating decadal changes in snow conditions at the model's grid scale of 1x1 km2, providing a detailed picture on the spatial characteristics of snow cover change. Moreover, temporal trends are elaborated by statistical analyses of mean snow cover change for selected regions in Austria (e.g. the northern, southern, western and eastern part of Austria) giving more detailed insights in the temporal variability and changes in snow cover conditions.

T. Marke1, F. Hanzer1, U. Strasser1, W. Schöner2, R. Koch3.
1University of Innsbruck, Department of Geography, Innsbruck, Austria.
2University of Graz, Institute of Geography and Regional Science, Graz, Austria.
3Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik, Climate Research Section, Vienna, Austria.


Snow cover     Climate change impact     Snow modelling