Snowfall frequency and intensity are influenced strongly by climate change. Here we separate the basic frequency change resulting from a gradually warming climate, from the intensity changes, by focusing on snowfall on days where the mean temperature is below freezing (Hellmann days). Using
an ensemble of simulations, obtained with the high-resolution regional climate model KNMI-RACMO2
driven by the EC-EARTH global climate model and RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 forcing scenarios, we show that in addition to the strong decrease in the number of Hellmann days, also a substantial reduction in the mean Hellmann-day snowfall can be expected over large parts of western and central Europe. Moreover, seasonal snowfall extremes display trends that are comparable or even larger. Projected intensity reductions are locally as large as −30% per degree warming, thus being in sharp contrast to mean winter precipitation, which increases in most future climate scenarios. Exceptions are the high Alps and parts of Scandinavia, which may see an increase of up to +10% per degree warming.
H de Vries, G Lenderink, E van Meijgaard. Future snowfall in western and central Europe projected with a high-resolution regional climate model ensemble
Status: published, Journal: Geophys. Res. Lett., Volume: 41, Year: 2014, First page: 4294, Last page: 4299, doi: 10.1002/2014GL059724