arrow arrow_up breadcrumb-chevron-right breadcrumb-home dropdown-arrow-down loader GALogoWUNEP GALogo2018 menu read-more-plus rrss-email rrss-facebook rrss-flickr rrss-instagram rrss-linkedin rrss-twitter rrss-vimeo rrss-youtube rrss_google_plus rrss_skype rrss_web pdf search share Completed In Process Ideas In Develpment Toogle Toogle Thumbnail View List View play close filter-collapse filter edit media_photo_library media_video_library graphics pictures videos collections next

Annual snowfall pattern for a typical mountain environment, Columbine Pass, Colorado 1971-2000

Mountain snow cover typically develops in the autumn and grows to a maximum depth in early spring. As day length and sun angles increase, so do air temperatures, causing snow cover to warm and begin to melt. Snow cover balances the availability of water in mountain environments. Where winter precipitation falls as rain, surface runoff occurs almost immediately. In contrast, snow stores water during the winter and then melts in the spring and early summer, creating peak stream flows in the afternoon and an overall seasonal peak flow. In many semi-arid mountain environments, snow melt buffers the transition into the dry summer season. Mountain snow is also a key source of groundwater, since a significant portion of the snow melt enters the soil and drains downhill into valley sediments. The timing, spatial distribution, and volume of snow melt are critical for determining how much water flows as surface runoff into rivers and lakes and how much becomes groundwater. This figure presents the annual snowfall distribution for a typical mountain environment, exemplified by Columbine Pass in Colorado, USA. Snow water equivalent is a typical measure of snowfall and snowpack, where snow is measured as the amount of water it represents, when melted.

Year: 2007

From collection: Global Outlook for Ice and Snow

Cartographer: Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal

Tags: Antarctica Arctic tundra Climate Change Indigenous Peoples polar bear

Graphics included in same album

View all media

Publications it appears in

View all publications

Related news

View all news