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Keywords:

  • Arctic;
  • CMIP5;
  • snow cover extent;
  • trends

[1] Analysis of Northern Hemisphere spring terrestrial snow cover extent (SCE) from the NOAA snow chart Climate Data Record (CDR) for the April to June period (when snow cover is mainly located over the Arctic) has revealed statistically significant reductions in May and June SCE. Successive records for the lowest June SCE have been set each year for Eurasia since 2008, and in 3 of the past 5 years for North America. The rate of loss of June snow cover extent between 1979 and 2011 (−17.8% decade−1) is greater than the loss of September sea ice extent (−10.6% decade−1) over the same period. Analysis of Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) model output shows the marked reductions in June SCE observed since 2005 fall below the zone of model consensus defined by +/−1 standard deviation from the multi-model ensemble mean.