Climate Dynamics

, Volume 22, Issue 6–7, pp 591–595 | Cite as

Actual and insolation-weighted Northern Hemisphere snow cover and sea-ice between 1973–2002

  • R. A. PielkeSr.Email author
  • G. E. Liston
  • W. L. Chapman
  • D. A. Robinson


Actual and insolation-weighted Northern Hemisphere snow cover and sea ice are binned by latitude bands for the years 1973–2002. Antarctic sea-ice is also analyzed for the years 1980–2002. The use of insolation weighting provides an improved estimate of the radiative feedbacks of snow cover and sea-ice into the atmosphere. One conclusion of our assessment is that while a decrease in both areal and insolation-weighted values have occurred, the data does not show a monotonic decrease of either Arctic sea-ice or Northern Hemisphere snow cover. If Arctic perennial sea-ice is decreasing since the total reduction in areal coverage is relatively small, a large portion of it is being replenished each year such that its radiative feedback to the atmosphere is muted. Antarctic sea-ice areal cover shows no significant long-term trend, while there is a slight decrease in the insolation-weighted values for the period 1980–2002. From the early 1990s to 2001, there was a slight increase in both values. The comparison of general circulation model simulations of changes over the last several decades to observed changes in insolation-weighted sea-ice and snow cover should be a priority research topic.


Snow Cover Latitude Band Areal Coverage Radiative Feedback General Circulation Model Simulation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The snow data was obtained from NOAA weekly snow maps, which are produced by a visual interpretation of visible satellite imagery. The information is standardized, converted to monthly values, and archived at Rutgers University ( ). The DMSP SSM/I sea-ice data were obtained from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The Referees provided specific suggestions which significantly improved the study. Support for this work was provided by National Science Foundation Grants 0229973-001 and ATM-9905924, and by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Grant NA06GPO566.


  1. Burridge DM, Gadd AJ (1974) The Meteorological Office operational 10 level numerical weather prediction model (December 1974). British Meteorological Office Tech Notes 12 and 48. London Rd., Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 2SZ, UK, pp 57Google Scholar
  2. Comiso JC (2002) A rapidly declining perennial sea ice cover in the Arctic. Geophys Res Lett 29: 20 doi:10.1029/2002GL015650Google Scholar
  3. Dye DG (2002) Variability and trends in the annual snow-cover cycle in Northern Hemisphere land areas, 1972–2000. Hydrol Process 16: 3065–3077CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Holloway G, Sou T (2002) Has Arctic sea-ice thinned? J Clim 15: 1691–1701CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Kyle HL, Ardanuy PE, Hurley EJ (1985) The status of the Nimbus-7 earth-radiation-budget data set. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 66: 1378–1388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. NRC (2003) Understanding climate change feedbacks. The National Academies Press. Washington, DC, USA pp 152Google Scholar
  7. Pielke RA Sr (2002) Mesoscale meteorological modeling. Academic Press, New York, pp 676Google Scholar
  8. Pielke RA Sr, Liston GE, Robock A (2000) Insolation-weighted assessment of Northern Hemisphere snow-cover and sea-ice variability. J Geophys Res Letts 27(19): 3061–3064CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Robinson DA, Dewey KF (1990) Recent secular variations in the extent of Northern Hemisphere snow cover. Geophys Res Lett 17: 1557–1560Google Scholar
  10. Vinnikov KY, Robock A, Stouffer RJ, Walsh JE, Parkinson CL, Cavalieri DJ, Mitchell JFB, Garrett D, Zakharov VF (1999) Global warming and Northern Hemisphere sea-ice extent. Science 286: 1934–1937PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Vyas NK, Dash MK, Bhandari SM, Khare N, Mitra A, Pandey PC (2003) On the secular trends in sea-ice extent over the Antarctic region based on OCEANSAT-1 MSMR observations. Int J Remote Sens 24: 2277–2287CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag  2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. A. PielkeSr.
    • 1
    Email author
  • G. E. Liston
    • 1
  • W. L. Chapman
    • 2
  • D. A. Robinson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Atmospheric Science Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Department of Atmospheric Sciences University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA

Personalised recommendations