In most alpine regions, the presence of snow controls the hydro-climatic situation over a great part of the year. The delayed and long-lasting process of snowmelt guarantees a relatively well-balanced discharge regime of rivers in the spring and summer melting season, even if only a small part of their catchment includes high mountain areas. For the typical alpine weather conditions, this results in high melt water runoff during dry conditions when net radiation and air temperature are high, while, during cooler periods, rainfall compensates for reduced or discontinued melt rates and sustains streamflow at a balanced level. Furthermore, because of the relatively high albedo of snow, changes in alpine snowcover are associated with a feedback to climate, a process that has not yet been very well investigated. For example, a climate-induced decrease in snowcover will reduce surface albedo, which leads to an amplification of the initial warming.
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- Spatial Heterogeneity of Snow Conditions and Evapotranspiration in the Swiss Alps
- Springer Netherlands