What is it about?

As climate warms, snow droughts (period of low snowpack) and heatwaves become more and more frequent, which are broadly but independently reported and studied across the world. This study confirmed for the first time the existence of snow droughts followed by heatwaves, namely compound snow drought and heatwave (CSDHW). We showed a holistic picture of global hotspots and evolutionary processes of CSDHW events from 1981 to 2020. An in-depth analysis of the potential interrelationships between snow drought and heatwave characteristics and the possible physical mechanisms causing the occurrence of CSDHW events is performed.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show an average of 35% of all snow droughts followed by heatwaves. An expansion of the coverage of CSDHW is detected globally, with a significant increase in Eurasia and a relatively high fluctuation in North America. Furthermore, the warm-type CSDHW (i.e., snow drought with normal or above-average precipitation followed by heatwave) occurs more frequently than the dry-type CSDHW (i.e., snow drought with below-average precipitation followed by heatwave), with a greater increasing trend in coverage fraction. However, dry snow drought is more likely to be followed by heatwave because it tends to promote the successive heatwave associated with the intensified soil drought and atmospheric aridity.


This study indicates a more frequent sequential occurrence of snow drought and heatwave under a warming climate. Our findings provide scientific evidence and guideline for adaptation to the multiplying risk of the sequential occurrence of snow drought and heatwave. The possible mechanisms provide implications for better understanding and forewarning the emerging compound hazard. Nevertheless, more attribution analyses are needed to further improve the process understanding and risk mitigation of CSDHW events in the future.

Xiangfei Li

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Recent Increase in the Occurrence of Snow Droughts Followed by Extreme Heatwaves in a Warmer World, Geophysical Research Letters, June 2022, American Geophysical Union (AGU),
DOI: 10.1029/2022gl099925.
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