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Twenty-first century changes in snowfall climate in Northern Europe in ENSEMBLES regional climate models


Changes in snowfall in northern Europe (55–71°N, 5–35°E) are analysed from 12 regional model simulations of twenty-first century climate under the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios A1B scenario. As an ensemble mean, the models suggest a decrease in the winter total snowfall in nearly all of northern Europe. In the middle of the winter, however, snowfall generally increases in the coldest areas. The borderline between increasing and decreasing snowfall broadly coincides with the −11 °C isotherm in baseline (1980–2010) monthly mean temperature, although with variation between models and grid boxes. High extremes of daily snowfall remain nearly unchanged, except for decreases in the mildest areas, where snowfall as a whole becomes much less common. A smaller fraction of the snow in the simulated late twenty-first century climate falls on severely cold days and a larger fraction on days with near-zero temperatures. Not only do days with low temperatures become less common, but they also typically have more positive anomalies of sea level pressure and less snowfall for the same temperature than in the present-day climate.

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The RCM simulations used in this study were obtained from the EU-FP6 project ENSEMBLES (Contract number 505539). We also acknowledge the E-OBS dataset from the ENSEMBLES project ( and the data providers in the ECA&D project ( This work was supported by the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in Atmospheric Science—From Molecular and Biological processes to the Global Climate (project 272041). The constructive comments from two anonymous reviewers helped to improve this article.

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Correspondence to Jouni Räisänen.

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Räisänen, J. Twenty-first century changes in snowfall climate in Northern Europe in ENSEMBLES regional climate models. Clim Dyn 46, 339–353 (2016).

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