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Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 19;7(1):5833. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05733-y.

Warming effects on the urban hydrology in cold climate regions.

Author information

Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom.
Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA.
Department of Geography/Atmospheric Science Program, the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.
Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Department of Built Environment, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland.
Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Max-Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Jena, Germany.


While approximately 338 million people in the Northern hemisphere live in regions that are regularly snow covered in winter, there is little hydro-climatologic knowledge in the cities impacted by snow. Using observations and modelling we have evaluated the energy and water exchanges of four cities that are exposed to wintertime snow. We show that the presence of snow critically changes the impact that city design has on the local-scale hydrology and climate. After snow melt, the cities return to being strongly controlled by the proportion of built and vegetated surfaces. However in winter, the presence of snow masks the influence of the built and vegetated fractions. We show how inter-year variability of wintertime temperature can modify this effect of snow. With increasing temperatures, these cities could be pushed towards very different partitioning between runoff and evapotranspiration. We derive the dependency of wintertime runoff on this warming effect in combination with the effect of urban densification.

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