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Consistent seasonal snow cover depth and duration variability over the Western Himalayas (WH)

Research paper by Dan Singh, Vikas Juyal; Vikas Sharma

Indexed on: 15 Oct '16Published on: 24 Sep '16Published in: Journal of Earth System Science



Abstract

Abstract Precipitation in solid form, i.e., snow, during winter season over the Western Himalayas (WH) leads to the build-up of seasonal snow cover. Seasonal snow cover build-up (snow cover depth and duration) largely depends on atmospheric variables such as temperature, precipitation, radiation, wind, etc. Integrated (combined) influence of atmospheric variables on seasonal snow cover gets reflected in terms of spatial and temporal variability in seasonal snow cover build-up pattern. Hence spatial and temporal variability of seasonal snow cover build-up can serve as a good indicator of climate change in high altitude mountainous regions like the WH. Consistent seasonal snow cover depth and duration, delay days and early melt days of consistent seasonal snow cover at 11 stations spread across different mountain ranges over the WH were analyzed. Mean, maximum and percentiles (25th, 50th, 75th, 90th and 95th) of consistent seasonal snow cover depth and duration show decline over the WH in the recent past 2–3 decades. Consistent seasonal snow cover is found to melt early and snow cover build-up pattern is found to show changes over the WH. Decline in consistent seasonal snow cover depth, duration and changing snow cover build-up pattern over the WH in recent decades indicate that WH has undergone considerable climate change and winter weather patterns are changing in the WH.AbstractPrecipitation in solid form, i.e., snow, during winter season over the Western Himalayas (WH) leads to the build-up of seasonal snow cover. Seasonal snow cover build-up (snow cover depth and duration) largely depends on atmospheric variables such as temperature, precipitation, radiation, wind, etc. Integrated (combined) influence of atmospheric variables on seasonal snow cover gets reflected in terms of spatial and temporal variability in seasonal snow cover build-up pattern. Hence spatial and temporal variability of seasonal snow cover build-up can serve as a good indicator of climate change in high altitude mountainous regions like the WH. Consistent seasonal snow cover depth and duration, delay days and early melt days of consistent seasonal snow cover at 11 stations spread across different mountain ranges over the WH were analyzed. Mean, maximum and percentiles (25th, 50th, 75th, 90th and 95th) of consistent seasonal snow cover depth and duration show decline over the WH in the recent past 2–3 decades. Consistent seasonal snow cover is found to melt early and snow cover build-up pattern is found to show changes over the WH. Decline in consistent seasonal snow cover depth, duration and changing snow cover build-up pattern over the WH in recent decades indicate that WH has undergone considerable climate change and winter weather patterns are changing in the WH.