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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-564
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-564
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 19 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 19 Nov 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Climate change and snow cover trends in Iceland

Darri Eythorsson1, Sigurdur M. Gardarsson1, Shahryar K. Ahmad2, and Oli Gretar Blondal Sveinsson3 Darri Eythorsson et al.
  • 1Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iceland
  • 2Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington
  • 3Research and Development Division, Landsvirkjun

Abstract. We studied the trends in climate change and snow cover in Iceland. Climate was classified based on the Köppen-Geiger (KG) classification system for 1950–2100 using the ensemble average of + NASA-NEX downscaled CMIP5 projections for RCP 4.5. Snow Cover Frequency (SCF) was calculated based on in MODIS10A1 snow product in days/year and SCF trends were calculated for 2001–2016. Trends in climate and snow cover changes were evaluated in 4 different elevation bands: Coastline (0–100 m.a.s.l.), Lowland (100–500 m.a.s.l.), Highland (500–1000 m.a.s.l.) and Mountains/Glaciers (1000+ m.a.s.l.). The results showed that in all elevations zones warmer climate classes have been replacing colder climates and polar tundra since 1950’s, based on climate projections we expect these trends to continue throughout the present century. We observed that in large areas of the country a significant increase in SCF had occurred during the period 2001–2016. These changes were most pronounced in the highlands where SCF had increased by 3.5 days/year on average. The only locations where we observed increasing SCF was around the termini of the country’s outlet glaciers. The results suggest that by the end of the present century polar tundra climate (ET) will have decreased from 20 % to 5 % coverage and cold climate with warm summers (Dfb), will extend around the island and spread into the highlands.

Darri Eythorsson et al.
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Darri Eythorsson et al.
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Short summary
We studied recent trends in the Icelandic climate and snow regimes. Climate was classified based on climate models and snow cover trends were assessed using satellite imagery. Our results showed a significant increase in the frequency of snow cover, especially in the eastern highlands. At the same our results show warmer climate classes spreading both northward and to higher elevations. Based on projected climate, we expect a significant warming of local climates in Iceland during this century.
We studied recent trends in the Icelandic climate and snow regimes. Climate was classified based...
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