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Recent changes in the frequency of freezing precipitation in North America and Northern Eurasia
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  • Source:
    Environmental Research Letters, 11(4), 045007.
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  • Description:
    Freezing rain and freezing drizzle events represent a critical feature of many regions of the world. Even at low intensities, these events often result in natural hazards that cause damage to housing, communication lines, and other man-made infrastructure. These events usually occur near the 0 degrees C isotherm. In a changing climate, this isotherm will not disappear, but its position in space and time will likely change as will the geography of freezing precipitation. A larger influx of water vapor into the continents from the oceans may also increase the amount and frequency of freezing precipitation events. This paper assesses our current understanding of recent changes in freezing precipitation for the United States, Canada, Norway, and Russia. The research is part of a larger GEWEX Cross-Cut Project addressing 'cold/shoulder season precipitation near 0 degrees C'. Using an archive of 874 long-term time series (40 years of data) of synoptic observations for these four countries, we document the climatology of daily freezing rain and freezing drizzle occurrences as well as trends therein. The regions with the highest frequency of freezing rains (from 3 to 8 days per year) reside in the northeastern quadrant of the conterminous United States and adjacent areas of southeastern Canada south of 50 N and over the south and southwest parts of the Great East European Plain. The frequency of freezing drizzle exceeds the frequency of freezing rain occurrence in all areas. During the past decade, the frequency of freezing rain events somewhat decreased over the southeastern US. In North America north of the Arctic Circle, it increased by about 1 day yr(-1). Over Norway, freezing rain occurrences increased substantially, especially in the Norwegian Arctic. In European Russia and western Siberia, the frequency of freezing rain somewhat increased (except the southernmost steppe regions and the Arctic regions) while freezing drizzle frequency decreased over entire Russia.
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