Snow and ice as a water resource

Snow, a defining characteristic of high latitude and high-altitude regions covering land and ice surfaces, is a cross-cutting component of the cryosphere that influences surface water and energy fluxes, atmospheric dynamics and weather, biogeochemical fluxes, and ecosystem dynamics at local to global scale. On average, snow covers 46 million km2 of Earth's surface each year and is thus the largest single component of the cryosphere in terms of area. Fall- and winter-snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has increased moderately since 1967, whereas a declining trend is observed in spring and summer. Modelling studies suggest that snow cover will decrease in area during this century, decreasing the planetary albedo and, hence, amplifying the initial warming. Ongoing improvement of our knowledge of snow processes and the temporal and spatial changes of snow-cover variables and solid precipitation is essential to meet current and future operational and policy needs, including weather and climate prediction, hydrological forecasting and climate-change detection. This session solicits overviews on such key issues, including:

• New and emerging methods and technologies related to observations and research;
• Satellite monitoring, snow trackers and derived products;
• Data integration, data archiving and exchange;
• Studies of the socio-economic impacts of changing snow conditions on runoff and water supply, especially for mountain regions and for improved hydrological forecasting in cold regions.
• Education, capacity building and international cooperation

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