Notarnicola, C (2020). Observing Snow Cover and Water Resource Changes in the High Mountain Asia Region in Comparison with Global Mountain Trends over 2000-2018. REMOTE SENSING, 12(23), 3913.

The quantification of snow cover changes and of the related water resources in mountain areas has a key role for understanding the impact on several sectors such as ecosystem services, tourism and energy production. By using NASA-Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images from 2000 to 2018, this study analyzes changes in snow cover in the High Mountain Asia region and compares them with global mountain areas. Globally, snow cover extent and duration are declining with significant trends in around 78% of mountain areas, and the High Mountain Asia region follows similar trends in around 86% of the areas. As an example, Shaluli Shan area in China shows significant negative trends for both snow cover extent and duration, with -11.4% (confidence interval: -17.7%, -5.5%) and -47.3 days (confidence interval: -70.4 days, -24.4 days) at elevations >5500 m a.s.l. respectively. In spring, an earlier snowmelt of -13.5 days (confidence interval: -24.3 days, -2.0 days) in 4000-5500 m a.s.l. is detected. On the other side, Tien Shan area shows an earlier snow onset of -28.8 days (confidence interval: -44.3 days, -8.2 days) between 2500 and 4000 m a.s.l., governed by decreasing temperature and increasing snowfall. In the current analysis, the Tibetan Plateau shows no significant changes. Regarding water resources, by using Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) data it was found that around 50% of areas in the High Mountain Asia region and 30% at global level are suffering from significant negative temporal trends of total water storage (including groundwater, soil moisture, surface water, snow, and ice) in the period 2002-2015. In the High Mountain Asia region, this negative trend involves around 54% of the areas during spring period, while at a global level this percentage lies between 25% and 30% for all seasons. Positive trends for water storage are detected in a maximum 10% of the areas in High Mountain Asia region and in around 20% of the areas at global level. Overall snow mass changes determine a significant contribution to the total water storage changes up to 30% of the areas in winter and spring time over 2002-2015.