Snow in Britain: the historical picture and future projections

Kay, Alison L.. 2016 Snow in Britain: the historical picture and future projections. Wallingford, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, 24pp. (CEH Project no. C05657)

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• The formation of snow is a complex process. Snow that reaches the ground can melt quickly or remain for periods from days to months, but most of Britain does not usually experience sustained periods of lying snow, and there are strong year-to-year variations. • Climate change is likely to have a significant effect on snow and ice processes globally. The areas most effected are likely to be those where current winter temperatures are close to 0°C, including parts of upland Britain. There is evidence of decreasing trends in observations of snowfall and lying snow in Britain, and climate model projections suggest a continuation of this trend. • Snow can affect river flows (quantity and quality). Although flows in Britain are generally dominated by rainfall rather than snowmelt, some catchments in the Scottish Highlands have a significant snowmelt contribution. • There is evidence of changes in observed and projected river flows in some catchments in Britain, linked to changes in snow, although it can be difficult to distinguish the effects of snow changes from those of other concurrent changes (climatic and non-climatic). Flow regime changes in catchments heavily affected by snow usually involve increases in winter flow and decreases in spring flow, but the effect on catchments with more transient snow cover is less clear, as is the effect on high flows and water quality. • Snow can also affect a number of other factors of socio-economic or environmental importance (e.g. transport and farming). There is some evidence that disruption due to snow may be less frequent in future, but in many cases disruption from other types of weather event may increase. • Further modelling of the potential impacts of climate change, including modelling the influence of snow changes as well as other climatic and non-climatic changes, would aid adaptation and encourage mitigation. • The impacts of snow tend to be worse in areas where events occur less frequently, due to unpreparedness. There is a need to guard against complacency when it comes to future snow events in Britain, which will still occur despite a likely reduction in frequency.

Item Type: Publication - Report
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Reynard
Funders/Sponsors: Environment Agency
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Report produced for the Environment Agency and LWEC, as part of their Climate Change Impacts Report Card for the Water Sector.
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
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Date made live: 08 Dec 2016 10:56 +0 (UTC)

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