EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Intensification of extreme snowfall under future warming

Lennart Quante1,2, Sven Willner1, Robin Middelanis1,2, and Anders Levermann1,3
Lennart Quante et al.
  • 1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany (
  • 2Potsdam University, Potsdam, Germany
  • 3Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, New York, USA

Due to climate change the frequency and character of precipitation are changing as the hydrological cycle intensifies. With regards to snowfall, global warming thereby has two opposing influences. Increasing humidity enables potentially intense snowfall, whereas warming temperatures decrease the likelihood of snowfall in the first place. Here we show an intensification of extreme snowfall under future warming, which is robust across all global coupled climate models when they are bias-corrected with observational data. While mean daily snowfall decreases drastically in the model ensemble, both the 99th and the 99.9th percentiles of daily snowfall increase strongly in the next decades. Additionally, the magnitude of high snowfall events increases, which is likely to pose considerable challenge to municipalities in mid to high northern latitudes. We propose that the almost unchanged occurrence of temperatures just below the freezing point of water in combination with the strengthening of the hydrological cycle enables this intensification of extreme snowfall. Thus extreme snowfall events are likely to become an increasingly important impact of climate change on society in the next decades.

How to cite: Quante, L., Willner, S., Middelanis, R., and Levermann, A.: Intensification of extreme snowfall under future warming, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10589,, 2021.

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