The Role of Climate and Land Use in the Changes in Surface Albedo Prior to Snow Melt and the Timing of Melt Season of Seasonal Snow in Northern Land Areas of 40°N–80°N during 1982–2015
The rapid warming of the Northern Hemisphere high latitudes and the observed changes in boreal forest areas affect the global surface albedo and climate. This study looks at the trends in the timing of the snow melt season as well as the albedo levels before and after the melt season in Northern Hemisphere land areas between 40°N and 80°N over the years 1982 to 2015. The analysis is based on optical satellite data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR). The results show that
... results show that the changes in surface albedo already begin before the start of the melt season. These albedo changes are significant (the mean of absolute change is 4.4 albedo percentage units per 34 years). The largest absolute changes in pre-melt-season albedo are concentrated in areas of the boreal forest, while the pre-melt albedo of tundra remains unchanged. Trends in melt season timing are consistent over large areas. The mean of absolute change of start date of melt season is 11.2 days per 34 years, 10.6 days for end date of melt season and 14.8 days for length of melt season. The changes result in longer and shorter melt seasons, as well as changed timing of the melt, depending on the area. The albedo levels preceding the onset of melt and start of the melt season correlate with climatic parameters (air temperature, precipitation, wind speed). The changes in albedo are more closely linked to changes in vegetation, whereas the changes in melt season timing are linked to changes in climate.