Snow cover in Northern Hemisphere shrinks

Dec. 3, 2012 at 8:04 PM
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PARIS, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Snow cover in Earth's Northern Hemisphere is shrinking with the level last June the lowest since satellite observations began 45 years ago, researchers say.

Satellite data shows the maximum amount of snow across the Northern Hemisphere is slowly decreasing while spring snow, particularly at high latitudes, is melting significantly earlier, the European Space Agency reported Monday.

The data shows record lows in Eurasia for June each year since 2008, while three of the past five years have seen record low cover in North America, the ESA said.

Satellites, since they observe large areas on a regular basis, can provide information on snow mass and changes in seasonal snow cover that are important for the studies of climate and hydrology, researchers said.

Much of the data is provided by ESA's GlobSnow satellite-based monitoring project.

"The satellite-derived information from GlobSnow on total snow mass provides us with an important indicator that helps us to monitor changes in European and Arctic climate," Hans-Martin Fuessel of the European Environment Agency said.

The results of the studies have been published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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