The sensitivity of snowfall to weather states over Sweden
- 1Atmospheric Remote Sensing Unit, Research Department, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Norrköping, Sweden
- 2Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Abstract. For a high-latitude country like Sweden snowfall is an important contributor to the regional water cycle. Furthermore, snowfall impacts surface properties, affects atmospheric thermodynamics, has implications for traffic and logistics management, disaster preparedness, and also impacts climate through changes in surface albedo and turbulent heat fluxes. For Sweden it has been shown that large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns, or weather states, are important for precipitation variability. Although the link between atmospheric circulation patterns and precipitation has been investigated for rainfall there are no studies focused on the sensitivity of snowfall to weather states over Sweden.
In this work we investigate the response of snowfall to eight selected weather states. These weather states consist of four dominant wind directions together with cyclonic and anticyclonic circulation patterns and enhanced positive and negative phases of the North Atlantic Oscillation. The presented analysis is based on multiple data sources, such as ground-based radar measurements, satellite observations, spatially interpolated in situ observations, and reanalysis data. The data from these sources converge to underline the sensitivity of falling snow over Sweden to the different weather states.
In this paper we examine both average snowfall intensities and snowfall accumulations associated with the different weather states. It is shown that, even though the heaviest snowfall intensities occur during conditions with winds from the south-west, the largest contribution to snowfall accumulation arrives with winds from the south-east. Large differences in snowfall due to variations in the North Atlantic Oscillation are shown as well as a strong effect of cyclonic and anticyclonic circulation patterns. Satellite observations are used to reveal the vertical structures of snowfall during the different weather states.