Articles | Volume 8, issue 1
Research article
06 Mar 2017
Research article |  | 06 Mar 2017

Characteristics of convective snow bands along the Swedish east coast

Julia Jeworrek, Lichuan Wu, Christian Dieterich, and Anna Rutgersson

Abstract. Convective snow bands develop in response to a cold air outbreak from the continent or the frozen sea over the open water surface of lakes or seas. The comparatively warm water body triggers shallow convection due to increased heat and moisture fluxes. Strong winds can align with this convection into wind-parallel cloud bands, which appear stationary as the wind direction remains consistent for the time period of the snow band event, delivering enduring snow precipitation at the approaching coast. The statistical analysis of a dataset from an 11-year high-resolution atmospheric regional climate model (RCA4) indicated 4 to 7 days a year of moderate to highly favourable conditions for the development of convective snow bands in the Baltic Sea region. The heaviest and most frequent lake effect snow was affecting the regions of Gävle and Västervik (along the Swedish east coast) as well as Gdansk (along the Polish coast). However, the hourly precipitation rate is often higher in Gävle than in the Västervik region. Two case studies comparing five different RCA4 model setups have shown that the Rossby Centre atmospheric regional climate model RCA4 provides a superior representation of the sea surface with more accurate sea surface temperature (SST) values when coupled to the ice–ocean model NEMO as opposed to the forcing by the ERA-40 reanalysis data. The refinement of the resolution of the atmospheric model component leads, especially in the horizontal direction, to significant improvement in the representation of the mesoscale circulation process as well as the local precipitation rate and area by the model.

Short summary
Convective snow bands develop in response to a cold air outbreak from the continent over an open water surface. In the Baltic Sea region these cause intense snowfall and can cause serious problems for traffic, infrastructure and other important establishments of society. The conditions for these events to occur were characterized and the potential of using a regional modelling system was evaluated. The modelling system was used to develop statistics of these events to occur in time and space.
Final-revised paper