This work presents a new, very long snowfall time series collected in a remote site of Italian Apennine mountains (Montevergine Observatory, 1280 m above sea level). After a careful check, based on quality control tests and homogenization procedures, the available data (i.e. daily height of new snow) have been aggregated over winter season (December–February) to study the long-term variability for the period 1884–2020. The main evidence emerging from this analysis lies in (i) the strong interannual variability of winter snowfall amounts, (ii) the absence of a relevant trend from the late 19th century to the mid-1970s, (iii) the strong reduction in the snowfall amount and frequency of occurrence from the mid-1970s to the end of the 1990s and (iv) the increase in average snowfall amount and frequency of occurrence in the past 20 years. Moreover, this study shed light on the relationship between the snowfall variability observed in Montevergine and the large-scale atmospheric circulation. Six different synoptic types, describing the meteorological scenarios triggering the snow events in the study area, have been identified by means of a cluster analysis, using two essential atmospheric variables, the 500 hPa geopotential height and the sea level pressure (both retrieved from the third version of the Twentieth Century Reanalysis dataset, which is available for the 1884–2015 period). Such patterns trace out scenarios characterized by the presence of a blocking high-pressure anomaly over Scandinavia or the North Atlantic and by a cold air outbreak involving both maritime and continental cold air masses. A further analysis demonstrates that the identified synoptic types are strongly related with different teleconnection patterns, i.e. the Arctic Oscillation (AO), the Eastern Atlantic Western Russia (EAWR), the Eastern Mediterranean Pattern (EMP), the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Scandinavian pattern (SCAND), that govern the European winter atmospheric variability. The relevant decline in snowfall frequency and amounts between the 1970s and 1990s can be mainly ascribed to the strong positive trend of AO and NAO indices, which determined, in turn, a decrease in the incidence of patterns associated with the advection, in central Mediterranean area, of moist and cold arctic maritime air masses. The recent increase in average snowfall amounts can be explained by the reverse trend of the AO index and by the prevalence of a neutral or negative EAWR pattern.

Synoptic control over winter snowfall variability observed in a remote site of Apennine Mountains (Italy), 1884–2015

Vincenzo Capozzi
;
Carmela De Vivo;Giorgio Budillon
2022

Abstract

This work presents a new, very long snowfall time series collected in a remote site of Italian Apennine mountains (Montevergine Observatory, 1280 m above sea level). After a careful check, based on quality control tests and homogenization procedures, the available data (i.e. daily height of new snow) have been aggregated over winter season (December–February) to study the long-term variability for the period 1884–2020. The main evidence emerging from this analysis lies in (i) the strong interannual variability of winter snowfall amounts, (ii) the absence of a relevant trend from the late 19th century to the mid-1970s, (iii) the strong reduction in the snowfall amount and frequency of occurrence from the mid-1970s to the end of the 1990s and (iv) the increase in average snowfall amount and frequency of occurrence in the past 20 years. Moreover, this study shed light on the relationship between the snowfall variability observed in Montevergine and the large-scale atmospheric circulation. Six different synoptic types, describing the meteorological scenarios triggering the snow events in the study area, have been identified by means of a cluster analysis, using two essential atmospheric variables, the 500 hPa geopotential height and the sea level pressure (both retrieved from the third version of the Twentieth Century Reanalysis dataset, which is available for the 1884–2015 period). Such patterns trace out scenarios characterized by the presence of a blocking high-pressure anomaly over Scandinavia or the North Atlantic and by a cold air outbreak involving both maritime and continental cold air masses. A further analysis demonstrates that the identified synoptic types are strongly related with different teleconnection patterns, i.e. the Arctic Oscillation (AO), the Eastern Atlantic Western Russia (EAWR), the Eastern Mediterranean Pattern (EMP), the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Scandinavian pattern (SCAND), that govern the European winter atmospheric variability. The relevant decline in snowfall frequency and amounts between the 1970s and 1990s can be mainly ascribed to the strong positive trend of AO and NAO indices, which determined, in turn, a decrease in the incidence of patterns associated with the advection, in central Mediterranean area, of moist and cold arctic maritime air masses. The recent increase in average snowfall amounts can be explained by the reverse trend of the AO index and by the prevalence of a neutral or negative EAWR pattern.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11367/104994
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