Snowfall and snow cover evolution in the Eastern Pre-Pyrenees (NE Iberian Peninsula)

J. Bonsoms, F. Salvador-Franch, M. Oliva


Snow cover has significant impacts on geoecological dynamics as well as on socio-economical systems. An accurate quantification of snow precipitation patterns in mountain regions is needed to better understand the spatio-temporal implications of snow cover. The objective of this work is to characterize the patterns of solid precipitation and snow cover in two high Mediterranean massifs. To this purpose, we analyse instrumental data series of snowfall and snow depth of Port del Comte (2316 m a.s.l.) and Cadí-Nord (2134 m). Both stations are situated in the eastern Pre-Pyrenees and include 14 consecutive snow seasons from November to May, allowing to (i) explore the dependence of the main drivers of snowpack: temperature and snowfall; (ii) find out the most frequent circulation weather types associated with high intensity snowfall events, and finally (iii) investigate the role of the North Atlantic Oceanic (NAO) teleconnection pattern explaining snow cover evolution during the winter season. Data show that snowfall is controlled by similar weather types in both stations that resulted in similar snowfall averages: 205 cm and 258 cm at Port del Comte and Cadí-Nord, respectively. Nevertheless, local factors interfere with the amount of snow depth recorded, which is moderately different between stations. Whereas Cadí-Nord records a seasonal mean of 66 cm, Port del Comte records a smaller quantity of 25 cm with a high interannual and seasonal variability. In fact, snowfall recurrence, snow amount or duration in the ground is considerably variable among years (CV>20). In these stations, snow cover duration is determined by the precipitation in the form of snow falling during the previous months. Snowfalls in moderate to severe episodes (>15 cm in 24 h) are mainly driven by Atlantic flows, mostly from NW. In addition, NAO pattern is negatively correlated with snowfall in November and December months (R>-0.50), showing a weaker and not statistically significant correlation during the rest of the winter season.


Pre-Pyrenees; climate variability; snowfall; snow depth

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