Change in the Date of Snow Disappearance in the High Arctic

TitleChange in the Date of Snow Disappearance in the High Arctic
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2006
AuthorsFoster, J. L., Robinson D. A., Hall D. K., and Estilow T.
Conference Name74th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 74th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 2006
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationLas Cruces, NM
KeywordsArctic snow cover, satellite, snowline retreat, climate change

In this paper, we show changes in the dates of snow disappearance in the high Arctic (70° north latitude) between the late 1960s and the early 2000s. NOAA satellite data were employed to make these snow observations (from snow cover to snow free conditions), using arbitrary but consistent boundaries. Continuing the study presented by Foster et al, (1992) on springtime snow disappearance in the high Arctic, the date the snowline retreats during the spring (when it first moves north of the 70 degree parallel), for many Arctic locations, has occurred approximately a week earlier in recent years compared to the late 1960s. The tendency toward earlier snowmelt previously observed during the past several decades has apparently neither been a local phenomenon nor a short-term fluctuation. However, unlike other markers of climate warming in the Arctic, since 1990, the date of snow disappearance has not occurred noticeably earlier. It is possible that the date of snow disappearance is not an adequate benchmark for detecting warming signal.