Climate change

Arctic snow lost faster than ice

Journal name:
Date published:
Published online

The rate of loss of Arctic snow cover during spring is outpacing even the rapid decline of sea ice.

Chris Derksen in Toronto and Ross Brown in Montreal, both of Environment Canada, looked at satellite data on high-latitude snow cover between April and June since 1979, and compared it with observed changes in the extent of Arctic sea ice in the same period. In most Arctic land areas, snow cover remaining in June had decreased by almost 20% per decade. Arctic sea ice, which this summer melted to a new record low, has declined by about 10% per decade since 1979.

State-of-the-art climate models have considerably underestimated the accelerating downward trend in both snow cover and sea-ice extent since 2005, the authors note.

Geophys. Res. Lett. (2012)

Additional data