Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of



Mark R. Anderson

Date of this Version



Published in the Annals of Glaciology (2001) 33: 74-78. Copyright 2001, the International Glaciology Society. Used by permission.


Climate models suggest surface warming in the Arctic will be rapid and pronounced, implying substantial changes in snowmelt onset are likely. This research therefore examines spatial and temporal variability in passive-microwave derived snowmelt-onset dates over Arctic sea ice. The objectives are to understand better the regional characteristics of snowmelt and to document whether the snowmelt-onset record shows signs of climate change. Snowmelt-onset dates are derived with Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer and Special Sensor Microwave/Imager brightness-temperature data, and they are subsequently stratified into 13 regions to analyze spatial and temporal variability. Results illustrate significant spatial variability in snowmelt onset, with the median annual snowmelt-onset date in one region of the Arctic typically being statistically different from most other regions. The examination of temporal variability also shows large interannual differences in the median snowmelt-onset date in most regions. Additionally, trends towards earlier snowmelt onset are documented in the West Central Arctic, Lincoln Sea, Beaufort Sea and Canadian Arctic Archipelago regions.