S. Howell, Jane Assini, K. Young
Nov 15, 2012
Snowmelt onset and end date estimates are made from QuikSCAT scatterometer measurements in the Canadian High Arctic wetland of Polar Bear Pass (PBP) and the surrounding region of Bathurst Island, Nunavut. In situ data within PBP is used to validate QuikSCAT snowmelt onset/end date estimates. Results indicate that within PBP from 2000 to 2009, the mean snowmelt onset date was Year Day (YD) 162, the mean snowmelt end date was YD179, and the mean snowmelt duration was 17 days. More interannual variability was apparent in snowmelt end date and duration compared with onset, and only snowmelt end date was significantly correlated with mean June air temperature at −0.78. Cooler air temperatures in 2004 contributed to a long snowmelt duration of 24 days, and the very short snowmelt duration in 2007 of just 11 days was caused by rapid and sustained increases in air temperature. For snowmelt end date and duration the mean spatial pattern revealed two centres of later snowmelt end date/longer snowmelt duration over Bathurst Island. They were separated by early snowmelt end date/short snowmelt duration in PBP. These patterns are in agreement with the spatial distribution of mean May to July air temperature over Bathurst Island and are likely influenced by the local‐scale topography of Bathurst Island. Given the correlation between air temperature and snowmelt end date, we might expect quicker snowmelt under increased warming. The latter process may have implications for the sustainability of the PBP wetland under a warmer climate. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.