Snow has a continuing fascination. As well as being a very dramatic feature of our weather, we can learn a lot about climate change from both long-term and short-term changes in snow climatology. Snow cover is also very important because it affects ecology, hydrology, agriculture, and transport, whilst also providing important feedbacks for the climate system.

Recent research has investigated changing snow cover patterns in Great Britain. Long-term changes have a very strong link with temperature changes causing a shorter snow cover duration in an average year. However, snow cover is also quite variable from year to year, and climate factors other than just temperature then become important. The frequency of different airflow directions over GB has a big influence for snow cover in specific years. I found that Easterly air flows (Polar Continental air) had most influence on snowy winters at low levels. By contrast in the mountains, N/NW airflows (Polar Maritime or Arctic air) often had more influence on snowy winter/spring seasons. Climate change is modifying these patterns but although we now experience less snowy years, there is still the possibility of occasional years with longer snow cover.


Brown I (2020) Snow cover variability in Great Britain during a changing climate. Weather 75, 61-66.

Brown I (2019) Snow cover duration and extent for Great Britain in a changing climate: altitudinal variations and synoptic-scale influences. International Journal of Climatology 39, 4611-4626. doi: 10.1002/joc.6090