The thermal effect of snow cover on ground surface temperature in the Northern Hemisphere Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Snow cover is critical to the ground thermal regime because it affects surface conditions and the energy balance. Prior work inherently included confounding effects from vegetation and the soil when estimating the snows effect by using the differences between air and ground surface or soil temperature. Here we use the Kudryavtsev model including a snow module to isolate the effect of only the snow cover during winter, based on observational sites across the Northern Hemisphere. We find that snows damping of annual mean ground surface temperature averages 5.06 3.15 C and ranges 0 C10 C, while damping of the annual ground surface temperature amplitude is 7.95 4.95 C, ranging 0 C20 C. Greater insulation occurs in the high-latitudes. The insulating effect is primarily driven by snow depth, but also the combination of air temperature and its amplitude, snow depth, and duration. Snow cover duration and low air temperature enhance snows insulating ability. These observational results that isolate the damping effect of only the snow could play a significant role in better understanding the energy change between air and the ground.

published proceedings

  • Environmental Research Letters

author list (cited authors)

  • Peng, X., Frauenfeld, O. W., Huang, Y., Chen, G., Wei, G., Li, X., ... Mu, C.

complete list of authors

  • Peng, Xiaoqing||Frauenfeld, Oliver W||Huang, Yuan||Chen, Guanqun||Wei, Gang||Li, Xuanjia||Tian, Weiwei||Yang, Guangshang||Zhao, Yaohua||Mu, Cuicui

publication date

  • April 2024