Associations between snow cover extent and surface air temperature over North America

TitleAssociations between snow cover extent and surface air temperature over North America
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference1993
AuthorsRobinson, D. A., and Leathers D. J.
Conference Name61st Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 61st Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedJune 1993
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationQuebec City, Quebec
KeywordsClimate change, Snow cover

We find significant associations between regional snow-cover extent and surface air temperature across North America. In a large majority of cases when the extent of snow cover is above normal, temperature departures are negative. Conversely, negative snow departures are almost always associated with above normal temperatures. Regional correlations are highest in seasons when snow cover is most variable. The largest temperature departures are associated with anomalies of snow cover over the central portion of the continent. An examination of 500 mb heights across North America suggests that – though circulation anomalies doubtlessly contribute to the temperature departures observed in regions of anomalous snow – the presence of absence of snow strongly influences temperatures. This relationship is most apparent in situations of above average snow extent. Results of this investigation should be of interest to those studying middle and high-latitude climate dynamics and climate change from both an empirical and modeling perspective.