Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 58, Issue 3–4, pp 197–210 | Cite as

Association between modes of variability of January Northern Hemisphere snow cover and circulation

  • D. J. Walland
  • I. Simmonds


An Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analysis has been applied to NOAA/NESDIS snow concentration data. The major modes of variability in January Northern Hemisphere snow concentration have been extracted and analysed. The analysis was completed separately over Eurasia and North America. Strong, coherent patterns were found for each of the first three EOFs that were analysed over both continents. Over Eurasia the first EOF showed much of Europe as well as western and central Asia in phase but eastern Asia of the opposite phase although the signal was somewhat weaker. North America had a very similar first EOF with a large positive anomaly centered over Montana reaching loadings of over 0.8. East of the Great Lakes, the anomaly changes sign, although again, its magnitude is much smaller.

An EOF examination was also made of the anomalous 700 hPa geopotential height fields. These modes of variability were correlated with those of snow cover with the aim of investigating the mechanisms by which the surface boundary snow and the overlying circulation can interact. The stronger correlations were discussed and logical physical scenarios were presented for each. The results indicate that there was no common pattern whereby one medium was always forcing the other but rather a complex array of interactions where each medium could influence the other. To support the physical basis of the relationships being depicted by the EOF study, a case study of January 1981 was made.

The presence of intercontinental relationships was also investigated and such relations were strongly suggested. It was proposed that the large scale organisation of the atmosphere between the two continents could go some way to explaining these links in snow variability.


Snow Cover Great Lake Eurasia Geopotential Height Empirical Orthogonal Function 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adem, J., Donn, W. L., 1981: Progress in monthly climate forecasting with a physical model.Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 62, 1666–1675.Google Scholar
  2. Baldwin, T. E., 1986: Northern Hemisphere snow and ice charts of NOAA/NESDIS. SNOW WATCH'85, Glacialogical Data, NOAA Rep. GD-18, World Data Center A for Glaciology, Boulder, CO, Available from CIRES, University of Colorado, Boulder 80309 USA.Google Scholar
  3. Barnston, A. G., Livezey, R. E., 1987: Classification, seasonality and persistence of low frequency atmospheric circulation patterns.Mon. Wea. Rev. 115, 1083–1126.Google Scholar
  4. Dewey, K. F., 1977: Daily maximum and minimum temperature forecasts and the influence of snow cover.Mon. Wea. Rev. 105, 1594–1597.Google Scholar
  5. Dewey, K. F., Heim, R., 1981: Satellite Observations of Variations in Northern Hemisphere Seasonal Snow Cover. NOAA Tech. Report NESS 87.Google Scholar
  6. Dewey, K. F., Heim, R., 1982: A digital archive of Northern Hemisphere snow cover, November 1966 through December 1980.Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 63, 1132–1140.Google Scholar
  7. Dey, C. H., Morone, L. L., 1985: Evolution of the National Meteorological Center global assimilation system: January 1982–December 1983.Mon. Wea. Rev. 113, 304–318.Google Scholar
  8. van den Dool, H. M., 1984: Long lived air temperature anomalies in the midlatitudes forced by the surface.Mon. Wea. Rev. 112, 555–562.Google Scholar
  9. Groisman, P. Y., Karl, T. R., Knight, R. W., 1994a: Observed impact of snow cover on the heat balance and rise of continental spring temperatures.Science 263, 198–200.Google Scholar
  10. Groisman, P. Y., Karl, T. R., Knight, R. W., Stenchikov, G. L., 1994b: Changes of snow cover, temperature, and radiative heat balance over the Northern Hemisphere.J. Climate 7, 1633–1656.Google Scholar
  11. Gutzler, D. S., Rosen, R. D., 1992: Interannual variability of wintertime snow cover across the Northern Hemisphere.J. Climate 5, 1441–1447.Google Scholar
  12. Holbrook, N., Bindoff, N., 1996: Review of temperature variability in the southwest Pacific Ocean interannual variability.J. Climate, (in press).Google Scholar
  13. Horel, J. D., 1981: A rotated principal component analysis of the interannual variability of the Northern Hemisphere 500 mb height field.Mon. Wea. Rev. 109, 2080–2092.Google Scholar
  14. Hoskins, B. J., Karoly, D. J., 1981: The steady linear response of a spherical atmosphere to thermal and orographic forcing.J. Atmos. Sci. 38, 1179–1196.Google Scholar
  15. Iwasaki, T., 1991: Year to year variation of snow cover area in the Northern Hemisphere.J. Meteor. Soc. Jap. 69, 209–217.Google Scholar
  16. Kidson, J. W., 1991: Intraseasonal variations in the Southern Hemisphere circulation.J. Climate 4, 939–953.Google Scholar
  17. Klein, W. H., Walsh, J. E., 1983: A comparison of pointwise screening and empirical orthogonal functions in specifying monthly surface temperature from 700 mb data.Mon. Wea. Rev. 111, 1–15.Google Scholar
  18. Kukla, G. J., Robinson, D., 1979: Accuracy of snow and ice monitoring.Glaciolog. Data 5, 91–98.Google Scholar
  19. Lamb, H. H., 1955: Two way relationship between snow or ice limit and 1000-500 mb thickness in the overlying atmosphere.Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc. 81, 172–189.Google Scholar
  20. Leathers, D. J., Ellis, A. W., Robinson, D. A., 1995: Characteristics of temperature depressions associated with snow cover across the northeast United States.J. Appl. Meteor. 34, 381–390.Google Scholar
  21. Leathers, D. J., Mote, T. L., Kuivinen, K. C., McFeeters, S., Kluck, D. R., 1993: Temporal characteristics of USA snowfall 1945–1946 through to 1984–1985.Int. J. Climatol. 13, 65–76.Google Scholar
  22. Leathers, D. J., Yarnal, B., Palecki, M. A., 1991: The Pacific/North American teleconnection pattern and United States Climate. Part I: Regional temperature and precipitation associations.J. Climate 4, 517–528.Google Scholar
  23. Matson, M., Wiesnet, D. R., 1981: New data base for climate studies.Nature 289, 451–456.Google Scholar
  24. McFadden, J. D., Ragotzkie, R. A., 1967: Climatological significance of albedo in central Canada.J. Geophys. Res. 72, 1135–1143.Google Scholar
  25. Namias, J., 1962: Influence of abnormal heat sources and sinks on atmospheric behaviour. Paper delivered at Proc. Symposium on Numerical Weather Prediction, Tokyo: Meteorol. Soc. of Japan.Google Scholar
  26. North, G. R., Bell, T. L., Cahalan, R. F., Moeng, F. J., 1982: Sampling errors in the estimation of empirical orthogonal functions.Mon. Wea. Rev. 110, 699–706.Google Scholar
  27. Robinson, D. A., Dewey, K. F., Heim, R. R., 1993: Global snow cover monitoring: an update.Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 74, 1689–1696.Google Scholar
  28. Robinson, D. A., Keimig, F. T., Dewey, K. F., 1991: Recent variations in Northern Hemisphere snow cover. Paper delivered at Proc. 15th annual Climate Diagnostics Workshop, NOAA.Google Scholar
  29. Ropelewski, C. F., Robock, A., Matson, M., 1984: Comments on “An apparent relationship between Eurasian spring snow cover and the advance period of the Indian summer monsoon”.J. Climate Appl. Meteor. 23, 341–342.Google Scholar
  30. Treidl, R. A., 1970: A case study of warm air advection over a melting snow surface.Bound. Layer Meteor. 1, 155–168.Google Scholar
  31. Wagner, A. J., 1973: The influence of average snow depth on monthly mean temperature anomaly.Mon. Wea. Rev. 101, 624–626.Google Scholar
  32. Walland, D. J., Simmonds, I., 1997: Trends and Co-variability in Northern Hemisphere snow cover.Tellus, (in press).Google Scholar
  33. Walsh, J. E., 1984: Forecasts of monthly 700 mb height: verification and specification experiments.Mon. Wea. Rev. 112, 2135–2147.Google Scholar
  34. Walsh, J. E., Tucek, D. R., Peterson, M. R., 1982: Seasonal snow cover and short term climatic fluctuations over the United States.Mon. Wea. Rev. 110,1474–1485.Google Scholar
  35. Webster, P. J., 1981: Mechanisms determining the atmospheric response to sea surface temperature anomalies.J. Atmos. Sci. 38, 554–571.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. J. Walland
    • 1
  • I. Simmonds
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Earth SciencesUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations