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Snow Cover Development on Spitsbergen Coastal Tundra Environment – Present State and Predictions for the End of XXI Century
Snow Cover Development on Spitsbergen Coastal Tundra Environment – Present State and Predictions for the End of XXI Century
Submitted on 12 Jun 2018

Kępski D.(1), Luks B.(1), Osuch M.(1), Dobler A.(2), Migała K.(3), Mott R.(4), Westermann S.(5), Budzik T.(6), Wawrzyniak T.(1)
1 - Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Księcia Janusza 64, 01-452 Warsaw, Poland; 2 - The Norwegian Meteorological Institute, PO Box 43 Blindern, NO-0313 Oslo, Norway; 3 Department of Climatology and Atmosphere Protection, University of Wroclaw, Kosiby 8, 54-621 Wrocław, Poland; 4 WSL-Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Flüelastrasse 11, 7260 Davos, Switzerland; 5 Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Postboks 1047 Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway; 6 Faculty of Earth Sciences, University of Silesia in Katowice, Będzińska 60, 41-200 Sosnowiec, Poland
This poster was presented at XXXVII Sympozjum Polarne "Polar Change - Global Change"
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Poster Abstract
Snow cover persist on Svalbard coastal tundra during majority of the year with typical onset on beginning of October and melt out in late June. With ongoing global warming, which is especially distinct in high latitudes, shortening of snow season is also observed. Multiannual data set collected at Polish Polar Station Hornsund indicates trends showing 2.6 days later snow onset and 4 days earlier snow disappearance per decade. Decreasing of snow depth during winters with more frequent rain-on-snow events is also visible. Such changes affect whole Arctic tundra ecosystem as snow cover duration decides e.g. about length of growing season. Additionally snowpack depth and structure has an effect on ground thermal regime and is important limiting factor for large herbivores e.g. reindeers as it can hinder access to the food base.
We present actual snow cover development on the base of multiannual data from Hornsund meteorological site and extended monitoring program established in Fuglebekken catchment in 2014. Additionally data from automatic weather stations available in Hornsund area were used for calibration and validation of SNOWPACK and Alpine3D numerical models. In second stage both models were used to simulate snow cover development in the end of the XXI century, basing on high resolution (0.022° grid - ca. 2.5km) climate projections obtained from COSMO-CLM nested in the MPI-ESM-LR model that following “business as usual” RCP 8.5 emission scenario. Climate conditions for the end of century were calculated for years 2089-2100 and validated for Polish Polar Station grid point using reprojection for years 1991-2000. Such approach indicate 15% growth of precipitation in Hornsund area and increase of annual air temperature by 6°C in the end of the XXI in relation to the end of the XX century. It means transition of the Hornsund climatic conditions to those currently occurring in southern Iceland (Reykjavík), so from tundra (ET) to subpolar oceanic climate (Cfc) in Köppen classification. This entails shortening of snow cover season from November to April that will be intermittent with snow-free periods during winter thaws.

Bartelt, P., & Lehning, M. (2002). A physical SNOWPACK model for the Swiss avalanche warning: Part I: numerical model. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 35(3), 123-145.
Dobler, A. & Haugen J. E., Convection resolving climate simulations over Svalbard, Arctic CORDEX Meeting, 28-30.11.2016, Bergen, Norway
Hanssen-Bauer, I., Førland, E. J., & Nordli, P. Ø. (1996). Measured and true precipitation at Svalbard. Norske meteorologiske institutt.
Lehning, M., Völksch, I., Gustafsson, D., Nguyen, T. A., Stähli, M., & Zappa, M. (2006). ALPINE3D: a detailed model of mountain surface processes and its application to snow hydrology. Hydrological processes, 20(10), 2111-2128.
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