Warmer and wetter winters: characteristics and implications of an extreme weather event in the High Arctic

One predicted consequence of global warming is an increased frequency of extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts, or heavy rainfalls. In parts of the Arctic, extreme warm spells and heavy rain-on-snow (ROS) events in winter are already more frequent. How these weather events impact snow-pack and permafrost characteristics is rarely documented empirically, and the implications for wildlife and society are hence far from understood. Here we characterize and document the effects of an extreme warm spell and ROS event that occurred in High Arctic Svalbard in January–February 2012, during the polar night.

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