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Furthermore, extensive measurement campaigns are required to measure flow-precipitation interactions within the near-surface atmospheric boundary layer. Although different measurement devices exist to measure flow field and snow particle distribution in the air, such as weather radars X-band or Doppler Wind Lidars, the strong interferences of measurements with the solid earth surface make measurements close to the surface difficult.

In this review, we have also summarized ablation processes that are directly linked to the effect of the local wind field. The estimation of mass loss due to snow sublimation at the surface and by blowing snow is shown to be challenging. Specific measurements can be used at local sites but models are required to provide estimations for larger areas. The thermo-dynamical feedback of blowing snow sublimation on the surface boundary layer, in particular, has been discussed by several studies, and can lead to near-surface saturation as found in Antarctica.

On the other hand, no saturation is found over seasonal snow in mountains and in the prairies, potentially due to shorter fetch distances over snow and entrainment of dry air from layer aloft. This review has also discussed the complex nature of heat-exchange processes over continuous and patchy snow covers. While turbulent heat fluxes have been shown to considerably contribute to the energy balance over snow, especially on shorter temporal scales, turbulent heat flux parameterizations in stable conditions over snow involve large uncertainties, mainly related to errors in stability correction functions and the violation of Monin—Obukhov similarity theory assumptions.

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The bulk approach, however, leads to significant errors of the turbulent heat flux estimation over snow even if necessary assumptions are met. The uncertainty in turbulent heat flux predictions dramatically increases as soon as the snow cover gets patchy. Changes in the local wind system can enhance or suppress heat exchange over remaining SCAs. Some studies even hint to a suppression of turbulence due to atmospheric decoupling of the air adjacent to the snow cover from the warm air above, strongly limiting the heat exchange toward the snow cover.

There are many open questions regarding boundary layer development, local heat advection and associated heat-exchange processes over patchy snow covers. Although, some of the processes are acting on a very small scale, these processes also affect snow ablation at the catchment scale as decreasing SCA results in a net near-surface atmospheric warming.

While this effect has been recognized by many studies, the SCA is still not satisfactorily accounted for in most hydrological models. Also, considering glaciers as very large snow and ice patches, similar processes such as local heat advection are assumed to also affect snow and ice ablation. More measurement campaigns with dense networks of energy balance stations including near-surface turbulence measurements are required to provide new insight into the feedback between the glacier katabatic wind system and the lateral advection of heat from the glacier boundary areas during the course of an ablation season.

A measurement campaign conducted in summer at the glacier Hintereisferner, running four complete energy balance stations, however, highlighted the challenges and strong efforts associated with the maintenance of a dense network of such stations at the typically rough glacier surface facing strong ice melt. New measurement strategies in the field using laser technology combined with further wind tunnel experiments in controlled environments e. Only a profound understanding will allow a good parameterization of these processes in larger-scale hydrological and land surface models.

By highlighting the impact of wind-driven processes on snow accumulation and snow ablation, this review has attempted to emphasize the central role of wind-driven coupling processes in the seasonal snow dynamics across different temporal and spatial scales. Although research on some of these processes has a long tradition, there are still many open questions that need to be addressed in future.

Not only the observation of processes at small scales is essential for improved knowledge on seasonal snow cover dynamics, but also further efforts are required to implement small-scale processes, such as wind-induced snow transport, preferential deposition of snowfall and energy advection in large scale and operational models with variable model resolutions.

Indeed, operational snowpack and hydrological models are reaching resolutions where wind-driven coupling processes need to be explicitly represented. This process representation is not applicable to all scales so that a scaling of process representations in different models is strongly required. There is certainly a further need for improvements in coupling advanced snowpack models with atmospheric models, but also in dynamical downscaling using multi-scale atmospheric models including snow drift resolving scales. Such efforts, however, strongly rely on advances in computational power allowing for more complex simulations also for longer time periods, larger areas and higher resolution.

Fast advances in remote sensing techniques will provide more improved model input e. Limits of data availability, related to limited temporal and spatial coverage as well as restricted access to data is claimed by several scientific communities and will require substantial efforts in future. Improvements in process understanding, processes representations at different scales and model input will be the basis for meaningful climate change scenario runs for mountainous regions, where local climate extremes are often connected to micrometeorlogy.

The work was funded by Swiss National Science Foundation Project: The sensitivity of very small glaciers to micrometeorology. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. We thank nuance mediadesign for creating Figures 2, 4 describing snow-atmosphere processes. We gratefully appreciate the proof reading of Michael Lehning and his valuable suggestions. Abegg, B.

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Snow-atmosphere energy and mass balance

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Oerlemans provided evidence of coherent global glacier retreat which could be explained by a linear warming trend of 0. While glacier variations are likely to have minimal effects upon global climate , their recession may have contributed one third to one half of the observed 20th Century rise in sea level Meier ; IPCC Furthermore, it is extremely likely that such extensive glacier recession as is currently observed in the Western Cordillera of North America, [24] where runoff from glacierized basins is used for irrigation and hydropower , involves significant hydrological and ecosystem impacts.

Effective water-resource planning and impact mitigation in such areas depends upon developing a sophisticated knowledge of the status of glacier ice and the mechanisms that cause it to change. Furthermore, a clear understanding of the mechanisms at work is crucial to interpreting the global-change signals that are contained in the time series of glacier mass balance records. Studies based on estimated snowfall and mass output tend to indicate that the ice sheets are near balance or taking some water out of the oceans. Relationships between global climate and changes in ice extent are complex.

The mass balance of land-based glaciers and ice sheets is determined by the accumulation of snow, mostly in winter, and warm-season ablation due primarily to net radiation and turbulent heat fluxes to melting ice and snow from warm-air advection, [27] [28] Munro However, most of Antarctica never experiences surface melting.

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In this situation, the ice margin may extend out into deep water as a floating ice shelf , such as that in the Ross Sea. Despite the possibility that global warming could result in losses to the Greenland ice sheet being offset by gains to the Antarctic ice sheet , [30] there is major concern about the possibility of a West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is grounded on bedrock below sea level, and its collapse has the potential of raising the world sea level 6—7 m over a few hundred years.

Opinions differ as to the present mass balance of these systems Bentley , , principally because of the limited data. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is stable so long as the Ross Ice Shelf is constrained by drag along its lateral boundaries and pinned by local grounding. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the scientific journal, see The Cryosphere. Those portions of Earth's surface where water is in solid form. Hydrological Sciences, 41, — Ya, T. Karl, and R. Knight, a: Observed impact of snow cover on the heat balance and the rise of continental spring temperatures.

Science, , — Climate, 7, — Rind, The effect of snow cover on the climate. Climate, 4, — Zhou, and J. Shukla, The effect of Eurasian snow cover on the Indian monsoon. Climate, 8, — Geophysical Research Letters. Dewey, and R. Heim, Global snow cover monitoring: an update. Journal of Climate. Williamsburg, Virginia: Eastern Snow Conference. Ya, and D. Easterling, Variability and trends of total precipitation and snowfall over the United States and Canada.

Annals of Glaciology, 25, — Arctic, 41, 6— Comiso, C. Parkinson, W. Campbell, F. Carsey, and P. Campbell, D. Cavalieri, J. Parkinson, and H. Comiso, H. Zwally, D. Cavalieri, P. Gloersen, and W. Annals of Glaciology, 21, — Miles, and E. Nature, , — Gloersen, C. Parkinson, J. Create citation alert. Buy this article in print. Journal RSS feed. Sign up for new issue notifications. The cryosphere consists of water in the solid form at the Earth's surface and includes, among others, snow, sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets.

Since the s the cryosphere and its components have often been considered as indicators of global warming because rising temperatures can enhance the melting of solid water e. Changes in the cryosphere are often easier to recognize than a global temperature rise of a couple of degrees: many locals and tourists have hands-on experience in changes in the extent of glaciers or the duration of winter snow cover on the Eurasian and North American continents. Available data showed clearly decreasing trends in the sea ice and frozen ground extent of the Northern Hemisphere NH and the global glacier mass balance.

However, the trend in the snow cover extent SCE of the NH was much more ambiguous; a result that has since been confirmed by the online available up-to-date analysis of the SCE performed by the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab climate. The behavior of snow is not the result of a simple cause-and-effect relationship between air temperature and snow. It is instead related to a rather complex interplay between external meteorological parameters and internal processes in the snowpack.

While air temperature is of course a crucial parameter for snow and its melting, precipitation and radiation are also important.