EGU21-3287, updated on 10 Jan 2024
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Observed snow depth trends in the European Alps 1971 to 2019

Michael Matiu1, Alice Crespi1, Giacomo Bertoldi2, Carlo Maria Carmagnola3, Christoph Marty4, Samuel Morin3, Wolfgang Schöner5, Daniele Cat Berro6, Gabriele Chiogna7,8, Ludovica De Gregorio1, Sven Kotlarski9, Bruno Majone10, Gernot Resch5, Silvia Terzago11, Mauro Valt12, Walter Beozzo13, Paola Cianfarra14, Isabelle Gouttevin3, Giorgia Marcolini8, and the Rest of the European Alps station snow observations team*
Michael Matiu et al.
  • 1Eurac Research, Institute for Earth Observation, Bolzano, Italy (
  • 2Institute for Alpine Environment, Eurac Research, Bolzano, 39100, Italy
  • 3Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Université de Toulouse, Météo-France, CNRS, CNRM, Centre d’Etudes de la Neige, Grenoble, 38000, France
  • 4WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos, 7260, Switzerland
  • 5Department of Geography and Regional Sciences, University of Graz, Graz, 8010, Austria
  • 6Società Meteorologica Italiana, Moncalieri, 10024, Italy
  • 7Chair of Hydrology and River Basin Management, Technical University Munich, Munich, 80333, Germany
  • 8Department of Geography, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, 6020, Austria
  • 9Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, Zurich-Airport, 8058, Switzerland
  • 10Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering, University of Trento, Trento, 38123, Italy
  • 11Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, National Research Council, (CNR-ISAC), Turin, 10133, Italy
  • 12Centro Valanghe di Arabba, Arabba, 32020, Italy
  • 13Meteotrentino, Provincia Autonoma di Trento, Trento, 38122, Italy
  • 14Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell'Ambiente e della Vita - DISTAV, Università degli Studi di Genova, Genova, 16132, Italy
  • *A full list of authors appears at the end of the abstract

The European Alps stretch over a range of climate zones, which affect the spatial distribution of snow. Previous analyses of station observations of snow were confined to regional analyses, which complicates comparisons between regions and makes Alpine wide conclusions questionable. Here, we present an Alpine wide analysis of snow depth from six Alpine countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, and Switzerland; including altogether more than 2000 stations, of which more than 800 were used for the trend assessment. Using a principal component analysis and k-means clustering, we identified five main modes of variability and five regions, which match the climatic forcing zones: north & high Alpine, northeast, northwest, southeast, and south & high Alpine. Linear trends of monthly mean snow depth between 1971 and 2019 showed decreases in snow depth for most stations for November to May. The average trend among all stations for seasonal (November to May) mean snow depth was -8.4 % per decade, for seasonal maximum snow depth -5.6 % per decade, and for seasonal snow cover duration -5.6 % per decade. However, regional trends differed substantially after accounting for elevation, which challenges the notion of generalizing results from one region to another or to the whole Alps. This study presents an analysis of station snow depth series with the most comprehensive spatial coverage in the European Alps to date.

Rest of the European Alps station snow observations team:

Claudia Notarnicola, Marcello Petitta, Simon C. Scherrer, Ulrich Strasser, Michael Winkler, Marc Zebisch, Andrea Cicogna, Roberto Cremonini, Andrea Debernardi, Mattia Faletto, Mauro Gaddo, Lorenzo Giovannini, Luca Mercalli, Jean-Michel Soubeyroux, Andrea Sušnik, Alberto Trenti, Stefano Urbani, Viktor Weilguni

How to cite: Matiu, M., Crespi, A., Bertoldi, G., Carmagnola, C. M., Marty, C., Morin, S., Schöner, W., Cat Berro, D., Chiogna, G., De Gregorio, L., Kotlarski, S., Majone, B., Resch, G., Terzago, S., Valt, M., Beozzo, W., Cianfarra, P., Gouttevin, I., and Marcolini, G. and the Rest of the European Alps station snow observations team: Observed snow depth trends in the European Alps 1971 to 2019, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3287,, 2021.

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