Snow in the climate system: interactions and current changes
The interplay of snow with the prevailing climatic conditions fullfils many important functions. The accumulation and ablation of a snow cover under the influence of the local climate and the associated storage and delayed release of melt water as drinking water from this natural reservoir are explained.
The importance of this function for the availability of water in different regions under current and future climatic conditions is exemplified by the Upper Danube and the Himalayas.
How snow cover protects plants against frost or prevents glacial ice from melting is described and the consequences of anthropogenic climate change are outlined. Feedback effects on the climate due to changes in albedo or energy, no longer required for melting snow, are described. The presentation of further consequences of the interaction of snow and climate on nature and on humans form the conclusion.