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Journal Articles Theoretical and Applied Climatology Year : 2022

Empirical modelling of snow cover duration patterns in complex terrains of Italy


Abstract Snow cover duration is a crucial climate change indicator. However, measurements of days with snow cover on the ground (DSG) are limited, especially in complex terrains, and existing measurements are fragmentary and cover only relatively short time periods. Here, we provide observational and modelling evidence that it is possible to produce reliable time-series of DSG for Italy based on instrumental measurements, and historical documentary data derived from various sources, from a limited set of stations and areas in the central-southern Apennines (CSA) of Italy. The adopted modelling approach reveals that DSG estimates in most settings in Italy can be driven by climate factors occurring in the CSA. Taking into account spatial scale-dependence, a parsimonious model was developed by incorporating elevation, winter and spring temperatures, a large-scale circulation index (the Atlantic Multidecadal Variability, AMV) and a snow-severity index, with in situ DSG data, based on a core snow cover dataset covering 97 years (88% coverage in the 1907–2018 period and the rest, discontinuously from 1683 to 1895, from historical data of the Benevento station). The model was validated on the basis of the identification of contemporary snow cover patterns and historical evidence of summer snow cover in high massifs. Beyond the CSA, validation obtained across terrains of varying complexity in both the northern and southern sectors of the peninsula indicate that the model holds potential for applications in a broad range of geographical settings and climatic situations of Italy. This article advances the study of past, present and future DSG changes in the central Mediterranean region.

Dates and versions

hal-03620287 , version 1 (25-03-2022)



Nazzareno Diodato, Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist, Gianni Bellocchi. Empirical modelling of snow cover duration patterns in complex terrains of Italy. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 2022, 147 (3-4), pp.1195-1212. ⟨10.1007/s00704-021-03867-8⟩. ⟨hal-03620287⟩
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