Climate Dynamics

, Volume 41, Issue 3–4, pp 589–600 | Cite as

Projection of snow cover changes over China under RCP scenarios

  • Zhenming Ji
  • Shichang KangEmail author


Snow cover changes in the middle (2040–2059) and end (2080–2099) of the twenty-first century over China were investigated with a regional climate model, nested within the global model BCC_CSM1.1. The simulations had been conducted for the period of 1950–2099 under the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios. Results show that the model perform well in representing contemporary (1986–2005) spatial distributions of snow cover days (SCDs) and snow water equivalent (SWE). However, some differences between observation and simulation were detected. Under the RCP4.5 scenarios, SCDs are shortened by 10–20 and 20–40 days during the middle and end of the twenty-first century, respectively. Whereas simulated SWE is lowered by 0.1–10 mm in most areas over the Tibetan Plateau (TP). On the other hand, the spatial distributions of SWE are reversed between the middle and end terms in the northeast China. Furthermore, compared with the changes of RCP4.5 scenario, SCDs are reduced by 5–20 days in the middle period under RCP8.5 scenario with even larger decreasing amplitude in the end term. SWE was lowered by 0.1–2.5 mm in most areas except the northeast of China in middle term under RCP8.5 scenario. The great center of SCDs and SWE changes are always located over TP. The regional mean of SCDs and SWE for the TP and for China display a declining trend from 2006 to 2099 with more pronounced changes in the TP than in China as a whole. Under the RCP8.5 scenario, the changes are enhanced compared to those under RCP4.5.


Snow cover Regional climate model Projection China 



This study was supported by the Globe Change Research Program of China (2010CB951401) and National Nature Science Foundation of China (41190081, 40830743). We thank Dr. Xiaoge Xin for providing the outputs of BCC_CSM1.1, and Ms. Zoe Lucia Lüthi for suggestions of the written English.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface ProcessesInstitute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  3. 3.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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