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Volume 8, issue 2
The Cryosphere, 8, 785–799, 2014
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-8-785-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: Earth observation of the Cryosphere

The Cryosphere, 8, 785–799, 2014
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-8-785-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 30 Apr 2014

Research article | 30 Apr 2014

Snow density climatology across the former USSR

X. Zhong1,2, T. Zhang3,4, and K. Wang3 X. Zhong et al.
  • 1State key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • 2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • 3College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • 4National Snow and Ice Data Center, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0449, USA

Abstract. Snow density is one of the basic properties used to describe snow cover characteristics, and it is a key factor for linking snow depth and snow water equivalent, which are critical for water resources assessment and modeling inputs. In this study, we used long-term data from ground-based measurements to investigate snow density (bulk density) climatology and its spatiotemporal variations across the former Soviet Union (USSR) from 1966 to 2008. The results showed that the long-term monthly mean snow density was approximately 0.22 ± 0.05 g cm−3 over the study area. The maximum and minimum monthly mean snow density was about 0.33 g cm−3 in June, and 0.14 g cm−3 in October, respectively. Maritime and ephemeral snow had the highest monthly mean snow density, while taiga snow had the lowest. The higher values of monthly snow density were mainly located in the European regions of the former USSR, on the coast of Arctic Russia, and the Kamchatka Peninsula, while the lower snow density occurred in central Siberia. Significant increasing trends of snow density from September through June of the next year were observed, however, the rate of the increase varied with different snow classes. The long-term (1966–2008) monthly and annual mean snow densities had significant decreasing trends, especially during the autumn months. Spatially, significant positive trends in monthly mean snow density lay in the southwestern areas of the former USSR in November and December and gradually expanded in Russia from February through April. Significant negative trends mainly lay in the European Russia and the southern Russia. There was a high correlation of snow density with elevation for tundra snow and snow density was highly correlated with latitude for prairie snow.

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