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Volume 12, issue 4 | Copyright
The Cryosphere, 12, 1249-1271, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 10 Apr 2018

Research article | 10 Apr 2018

Multi-component ensembles of future meteorological and natural snow conditions for 1500 m altitude in the Chartreuse mountain range, Northern French Alps

Deborah Verfaillie1, Matthieu Lafaysse1, Michel Déqué2, Nicolas Eckert3, Yves Lejeune1, and Samuel Morin1 Deborah Verfaillie et al.
  • 1Météo-France – CNRS, CNRM UMR 3589, Centre d'Études de la Neige, Grenoble, France
  • 2Météo-France – CNRS, CNRM UMR 3589, Toulouse, France
  • 3Université Grenoble Alpes, Irstea, UR ETGR, Grenoble, France

Abstract. This article investigates the climatic response of a series of indicators for characterizing annual snow conditions and corresponding meteorological drivers at 1500m altitude in the Chartreuse mountain range in the Northern French Alps. Past and future changes were computed based on reanalysis and observations from 1958 to 2016, and using CMIP5–EURO-CORDEX GCM–RCM pairs spanning historical (1950–2005) and RCP2.6 (4), RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 (13 each) future scenarios (2006–2100). The adjusted climate model runs were used to drive the multiphysics ensemble configuration of the detailed snowpack model Crocus. Uncertainty arising from physical modeling of snow accounts for 20% typically, although the multiphysics is likely to have a much smaller impact on trends. Ensembles of climate projections are rather similar until the middle of the 21st century, and all show a continuation of the ongoing reduction in average snow conditions, and sustained interannual variability. The impact of the RCPs becomes significant for the second half of the 21st century, with overall stable conditions with RCP2.6, and continued degradation of snow conditions for RCP4.5 and 8.5, the latter leading to more frequent ephemeral snow conditions. Changes in local meteorological and snow conditions show significant correlation with global temperature changes. Global temperature levels 1.5 and 2°C above preindustrial levels correspond to a 25 and 32% reduction, respectively, of winter mean snow depth with respect to the reference period 1986–2005. Larger reduction rates are expected for global temperature levels exceeding 2°C. The method can address other geographical areas and sectorial indicators, in the field of water resources, mountain tourism or natural hazards.

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Short summary
This article addresses local changes of seasonal snow and its meteorological drivers, at 1500 m altitude in the Chartreuse mountain range in the Northern French Alps, for the period 1960–2100. We use an ensemble of adjusted RCM outputs consistent with IPCC AR5 GCM outputs (RCPs 2.6, 4.5 and 8.5) and the snowpack model Crocus. Beyond scenario-based approach, global temperature levels on the order of 1.5 °C and 2 °C above preindustrial levels correspond to 25 and 32% reduction of mean snow depth.
This article addresses local changes of seasonal snow and its meteorological drivers, at 1500 m...