CR 71:111-125 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01435

Rain-on-snow events in Switzerland: recent observations and projections for the 21st century

Enrique Morán-Tejeda1,*, J. Ignacio López-Moreno2, Markus Stoffel3,4,5, Martin Beniston3

1Department of Geography, University of the Balearic Islands, 07122 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
2Pyrenean Institute of Ecology-CSIC, 50059 Zaragoza, Spain
3Institute for Environmental Studies, Department of Physics, University of Geneva, 1205 Geneva, Switzerland
4Department for Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
5Dendrolab.ch, Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We analyze the temporal and spatial patterns of rain-on-snow (ROS) events during the last 4 decades in Switzerland and project the future occurrence of ROS events based on atmospheric warming under the A1B greenhouse gas emissions scenario. The results indicate that ROS events occur mainly during winter months at low elevations, and during summer months at high elevations. The solid/liquid precipitation ratio and the duration of the snowpack explain the spatio-temporal characteristics of ROS events. Observations indicate a trend towards a slight reduction in ROS events during the study period (1972-2012) due to decreasing rainfall, and a reduction in snowpack duration due to warming temperatures. However, increased warming may increase the frequency of ROS events in future decades, especially at high elevations (>2000 m) where the snowpack will still be present during most of the year, but liquid precipitation will become more frequent.


KEY WORDS: Rain-on-snow events · Snowpack · Precipitation phase · Temperature · Alps · Switzerland


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Cite this article as: Morán-Tejeda E, López-Moreno JI, Stoffel M, Beniston M (2016) Rain-on-snow events in Switzerland: recent observations and projections for the 21st century. Clim Res 71:111-125. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01435

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