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Northern hemisphere snow cover during 1988 and 1989 was at its lowest extent since the advent of reliable satellite snow-cover monitoring in 1972; running some 8–10% below the eighteen-year annual mean of 25.7 million km2. Monthly minima for the period of record occurred six times during these two years. In general, the last nine years of the satellite record had less extensive cover than the 1972–80 interval. Negative anomalies during the 1980s were largest over Eurasia in all seasons, and in the Spring over North America. Hemispheric seasonal means for the most recent nine years were 3.7% to 8.4% lower than those between 1972 and 1980. Results are based on analyses of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weekly snow charts, which are produced from visible satellite imagery.