An analysis of present and future seasonal Northern Hemisphere land snow cover simulated by CMIP5 coupled climate models
The 20th century seasonal Northern Hemisphere land snow cover as simulated by available CMIP5 model output is compared to observations. On average, the models reproduce the observed snow cover extent very well, but the significant trend towards a~reduced spring snow cover extent over the 1979–2005 is underestimated. We show that this is linked to the simulated Northern Hemisphere extratropical land warming trend over the same period, which is underestimated, although the models, on average, correctly capture the observed global warming trend. There is a good linear correlation between hemispheric seasonal spring snow cover extent and boreal large-scale annual mean surface air temperature in the models, supported by available observations. This relationship also persists in the future and is independent of the particular anthropogenic climate forcing scenario. Similarly, the simulated linear correlation between the hemispheric seasonal spring snow cover extent and global mean annual mean surface air temperature is stable in time. However, the sensitivity of the Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover to global mean surface air temperature changes is underestimated at present because of the underestimate of the boreal land temperature change amplification.