What is the trend in snow cover extent and snow mass in Europe?

Policy Question
Indicator codes: CLIM 008
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Key messages

(25 Aug 2014)

  • Snow cover extent in the Northern Hemisphere has declined significantly over the past 90 years, with most of the reductions occurring since 1980. Snow cover extent in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased by 7% on average in March and April and by 53% in June over the 1967–2012 period; the observed reductions in Europe are even larger at 13% for March and April and 87% for June.
  • Snow mass in the Northern hemisphere has decreased by 7 % in March from 1982 to 2009; snow mass in Europe has decreased even more, but with large inter-annual variation.
  • Model simulations project widespread reductions in the extent and duration of snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere and in Europe over the 21st century.
  • Changes in snow cover affect the Earth’s surface reflectivity, water resources, the flora and fauna and their ecology, agriculture, forestry, tourism, snow sports, transport and power generation.

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