Extreme values of snow-related variables in Mediterranean regions: trends and long-term forecasting in Sierra Nevada (Spain)

Other literature type English OPEN
Pérez-Palazón, M. J. ; Pimentel, R. ; Herrero, J. ; Aguilar, C. ; Perales, J. M. ; Polo, M. J. (2015)

Mountain areas in Mediterranean regions constitute key monitoring points for climate variability and its impacts, but long time datasets are not always available due to the difficult access to high areas, relevant for capturing temperature and precipitation regimes, and the predominance of cloudy remote sensing images during the snow season. Sierra Nevada National Park (South Spain), with altitudes higher than 3500 m a.s.l., is part of the Global Change in Mountain Regions network. Snow occurrence just 40 km from the seaside determines a wide range of biodiversity, a snowmelt fluvial regime, and the associated ecosystem services. This work presents the local trend analysis of weather variables at this area together with additional snow-related variables. For this, long term point and distributed observations from weather stations and remote sensing sources were studied and used as input and calibration datasets of a physically based snow model to derive long term series of mean and maximum daily fraction of snow covered area, annual number of days with snow, annual number of days with precipitation, mean and maximum mean daily snow water equivalent, and snowmelt and evaporation volumes. The joint analysis of weather and snow variables showed a decrease trend in the persistence and extent of the snow cover area. The precipitation regime, rather than the temperature trend, seems to be the most relevant driver on the snow regime forcing in Mediterranean areas. This poses a constraint for rigorous scenario analysis in these regions, since the precipitation pattern is poorly approximated by climatic models in these regions.
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