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Keywords:

  • winter;
  • climatic variables;
  • trends;
  • Chic-Chocs;
  • Canada;
  • precipitation;
  • temperature;
  • snow cover

ABSTRACT

This paper presents an analysis of winter climate variability based on daily mean temperature and precipitation data since 1970 in the Chic-Chocs Mountain range (located in the Gaspé Peninsula, Eastern Quebec, Canada). Mountain environments are particularly sensitive to rapid climate change and are therefore good indicators of recent global warming. The main goal of this study is to demonstrate how joint probability temperature/precipitation distributions can be used to estimate winter condition changes (trends) for six meteorological stations in the study area (the altitudinal range for the stations is from 5 to 574 m). The presence and persistence of snow cover was also estimated. Previous studies have shown a lack of evidence of significant trends in snow-cover characteristics (density, depth and snow water equivalent (SWE)) from the early 1980s to the present, despite an increase in temperature over the same period. A reanalysis of these data sets in addition to the use of a combination of temperature and precipitation data categorized into four modes (warm/wet, warm/dry, cold/wet and cold/dry) was also performed. Despite this new analysis, no clear evidence of climate change could be found in the study area over the last four decades. The results revealed that patterns and trends are quite different from one station to another, but when the environment is taken into account (valley or plateau, coastal versus inland) some apparent patterns emerge.