Chen, WQ; Ding, JL; Wang, JZ; Zhang, JY; Zhang, Z (2020). Temporal and spatial variability in snow cover over the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China, from 2001 to 2015. PEERJ, 8, e8861.

Xinjiang, China, is a typical arid and semi-arid region of Central Asia that significantly lacks freshwater resources, and the surface runoff in this region is mainly supplied by mountain glacier and snow cover meltwater. Based on the above background and issues of transnational water resources between Xinjiang and Central Asia along the Silk Road Economic Belt, which were highlighted in the major strategy of "The Belt and Road'', this study analysed the spatial and temporal variations in snow cover and snow cover days in the Xinjiang region from 2001 to 2015. The study area includes four subregions: Northern Xinjiang, Southern Xinjiang, Eastern Xinjiang and the Ili River Valley. Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) 8-day snow cover data were used after removing clouds by combining MOD10A2 and MYD10A2. The results showed that seasonal snow cover occurred from October to April in most regions of Xinjiang and that this snow cover consisted of two processes: snow accumulation and snow ablation. The maximum snow cover occurred in January, whereas the minimum snow cover occurred from July to August. During the seasonal snow cover period, the snowfall rates in Northern Xinjiang and the Ili River Valley were higher, while the other regions had a low snowfall probability. To study the relationship between altitude and snow cover, the normalized snow elevation correlation index (NSACI) was calculated. The NSACI showed a significant correlation between snow cover and elevation in most regions of Xinjiang and was classified into five grades. Snow cover days did not fluctuate obviously from 2001 to 2015, and a decreasing trend was observed in the four subregions except for the Ili River Valley (nonsignificant decreasing trend). We also observed a correlation between snow cover and temperature and found that the correlations between monthly snow cover and monthly temperature in the four subregions were strongly related to the underlying land type and global warming background, which also suggests that the special topography of Xinjiang greatly influences both snow cover and climate change.