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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-188
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-188
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 31 Jul 2019

Submitted as: research article | 31 Jul 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Present and future changes in winter climate indices relevant for access disruptions in Troms, northern Norway

Anita Verpe Dyrrdal1, Ketil Isaksen1, Jens Kristian Steen Jacobsen2, and Irene Brox Nilsen3 Anita Verpe Dyrrdal et al.
  • 1Department of Research and Development, Norwegian meteorological institute, Oslo, 0313, Norway
  • 2Institute of Transport Economics, Oslo, 0349, Norway
  • 3Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, Oslo, 0301, Norway

Abstract. In some seaside communities in northern Norway the vulnerability to weather induced access disruptions is high, due to frequent high impact weather in the region and the dependency on one or few roads particularly exposed to avalanches, wind and rockfall. In this paper we study changes in typical winter weather indices known to potentially cause such access disruptions in the region. A gridded observation-based dataset is used to analyse changes in present climate (1958–2017), while an ensemble of 10 EURO-CORDEX climate model simulations are used to assess expected future changes in the same indices, towards the end of this century. We focus on weather indices associated with snow avalanches, such as maximum snow amount and snowfall intensity and frequency, but also freeze-thaw cycles in terms of temperatures crossing zero degrees Celsius (zero-crossings), total water supply and the frequency of high wind speed are studied. Our results show that there are large climate gradients in Troms county and also in detected changes. In both focus areas, however, we find an increase in studied snow indices in present climate, while a strong decrease is expected in near and far future, particularly in low elevations where snow during winter might become a rarity by 2100. Heavy water supply is rather infrequent in the present climate of Troms, but we show that these events are likely to occur more often in all inland areas in the future. Although the risk of dry snow-related access disruptions might decrease, a warmer and wetter winter climate may increase the risk of wet-snow avalaches and slushflows. We find that zero-crossings, known to destabilize the snow pack and cause rockfall, have increased in most parts of Troms during the last decades, and a further increase is expected for inland regions in the future, while coastal regions can expect less zero-crossings. The higher risk of water and rainfall-induced hazards and more frequent freeze-thaw conditions calls for careful coordination of climate adaptation, cooperation between different sectors, as well as guidance and training of local authorities, especially in exposed and remote regions.

Anita Verpe Dyrrdal et al.
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Short summary
We have studies changes in winter weather known to trigger road closures and isolation of small seaside communities in Northern Norway. We find that snow amounts and heavy snowfall events have increased in the past, while future projections for 2040–2100 show a decrease in snow related indices. Events of heavy water supply and zero-crossings are expected to increase. Our results imply less dry snow-related access disruptions in the future, while wet-snow avalanches and slushflows may increase.
We have studies changes in winter weather known to trigger road closures and isolation of small...
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