Land-atmosphere coupling associated with snow cover

Dutra E, Scär C, Viterbo P, Miranda PMA
Geophys. Res. Lett., 38,L15707,

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This study investigates the role of interannual snow cover variability in controlling the land-atmosphere coupling and its relation with near surface (T2M) and soil temperature (STL1). Global atmospheric simulations are carried out with the EC-EARTH climate model using climatological sea surface temperature and sea ice distributions. Snow climatology, derived from a control run (COUP), is used to replace snow evolution in the snow-uncoupled simulation (UNCOUP). The snow cover and depth variability explains almost 60% of the winter T2M variability in predominantly snow-covered regions. During spring the differences in interannual variability of T2M are more restricted to the snow line regions. The variability of soil temperature is also damped in UNCOUP. However, there are regions with a pronounced signal in STL1 with no counterpart in T2M. These regions are characterized by a significant interannual variability in snow depth, rather than snow cover (almost fully snow covered during winter). These results highlight the importance of both snow cover and snow depth in decoupling the soil temperature evolution from the overlying atmosphere.