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article imageExceptionally large amount of ice and snow in Northern Hemisphere

By Karen Graham     Mar 15, 2018 in Science
The new "Arctic Now" product shows with one picture the extent of snow and ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere. This kind of information, which shows the accurate state of the Arctic, becomes increasingly important due to climate change.
The Arctic Now service was developed by the Finnish Meteorological Institute. While traditional methods only monitor the extent of ice and snow, with Arctic Now, Finnish scientists have combined data to form a single source.
Two data sets are presented simultaneously. Overland the northern hemisphere; Globsnow snow-water-equivalent SWE product and over the sea, the EUMETSAT OSI-SAF sea-ice concentration product. New images are produced for the previous day every evening.
The European Space Agency (ESA) Globsnow Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) product collects data from three satellite sensors - SMMR, SSM/I, and SSMIS, and combines that data with ground-based weather station data from 1979 forward to the present.
Over land the northern hemisphere Globsnow snow-water-equivalent SWE product and over sea the OSI-SA...
Over land the northern hemisphere Globsnow snow-water-equivalent SWE product and over sea the OSI-SAF sea-ice concentration product.
Finnish Meteorological Institute
In addition to the overall coverage, the data includes the water value of the snow, which determines the actual water contained in the snow. This information is important in developing hydrological forecasts on possible flood situations and in monitoring the state of the climate and environment in general.
Information gleaned from the Arctic Now product is also sent to the Global Cryosphere Watch service of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMP). There, the data is combined with trends and statistics of past years. All this information is then used in computer modeling of past climate and in making projections for climate changes in the future.
The total amount of snow is declining and starts melting earlier
A lengthy series of observation times shows that the total amount of snow in the Northern Hemisphere has declined in the spring period and that the melting of the snow has started earlier in the same period.
Going back in time, covering from 1980 to 2017, an examination of the data shows that the total amount of snow in all winter periods has decreased on average.
Looking specifically at the ice cover of the Arctic Ocean, the data shows that the Arctic ice has grown thinner and the amount and expanse of the yearly ice extent has grown smaller. Before 2000, the smallest expanse of sea ice varied between 6.2 and 7.9 million square kilometers. In the past 10 years, the expanse of ice has varied from 5.4 to 3.6 million square kilometers.
Europe's cold snap comes as the Arctic experiences record high temperatures
Europe's cold snap comes as the Arctic experiences record high temperatures
Without a doubt, our future will see an increase in extreme weather - with winters in where snowfall is quite heavy, and periods of very little snow. Add to this the fact that the Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the globe - The impact of climate change can already be seen and these changes affect the entire planet, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute.
Ari Laaksonen, the Scientific Director at the Finnish Meteorological Institute explains it this way: "What happens in the Arctic regions does not stay in the Arctic regions. It also affects a wider area. The exceptional strengthening of a high-pressure area in Siberia, which brought freezing temperatures to Finland in late February and early March, may be partly the result of atmospheric warming over the Arctic Ocean. When it is exceptionally cold somewhere in the world, it is often exceptionally warm somewhere else. This is what happened in the end of February-early March when temperatures in the North Pole were around zero degrees Celsius and it was exceptionally cold in Europe."
For more information on the Arctic Now Service, go to:
More about arctic now, finnish meteorological service, northern hemisphere, snow and ice, Cryosphere
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