State of the Ground: Climatology and Changes during the Past 69 Years over Northern Eurasia for a Rarely Used Measure of Snow Cover and Frozen Land

Groisman, Pavel Ya.; Knight, Richard W.; Razuvaev, Vyacheslav N.; Bulygina, Olga N.; Karl, Thomas R.
October 2006
Journal of Climate;Oct2006, Vol. 19 Issue 19, p4933
Academic Journal
Significant climatic changes over northern Eurasia during the twentieth century are revealed in numerous variables including those affecting and characterizing the state of the cryosphere. In addition to commonly used in situ observations of snow cover such as snow depth and snow courses, synoptic archives in the former Soviet Union contain regular daily and semidaily reports about the state of the ground in the area surrounding the station. Information about frozen, dry, wet, ponded, and snow-covered land, and in the case of snow-covered land, about the characteristics of snow cover, is available in these reports. A new Global Synoptic Data Network (GSDN) consisting of 2100 stations within the boundaries of the former Soviet Union created jointly by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and Russian Institute for Hydrometeorological Information (RIHMI) was used to assess the climatology of snow cover, frozen and unfrozen ground reports, and their temporal variability for the period from 1936 to 2004. Comparison with satellite measurements of snow cover extent is also presented. During the second half of the twentieth century and over many regions in northern Eurasia, an increase in unfrozen ground conditions (5 days since 1956 over the Russian Federation) was observed. The most prominent changes occurred in the spring season in Siberia and the Far East north of 55°N during April and May by 3 to 5 days, which constitute a 15%–35% change in these regions compared to long-term mean values. Since the beginning of the dataset, surface temperature changes in high latitudes have not been monotonic. As a result, linear trend analyses applied to the entire period of observations can lead to paradoxical conclusions. Specifically, changes in snow cover extent during the 1936–2004 period cannot be linked with “warming” (particularly with the Arctic warming) because in this particular period the Arctic warming was absent.


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