An exceptional snowpack in the Pyrenees

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An exceptional snowpack in the Pyrenees

  • 15 Apr

The snow cover in the Pyrenees is essential for tourism sector, water resources management and the ecosystems. In contrast to last year snow season, winter 2018 already appears as a remarkable year for snow.
Since mid-December snowfall were regular on the northern and southern slopes of the Pyrenees. The snow height was already higher than the seasonal average across the Pyrenees since early February, but it became remarkable after the important snowfalls in mid March.

As of April 1st, a number of indicators developed as part of the OPCC make it possible to qualify this situation:

- the extent of the snow cover as retrieved from the MODIS satellites is near its record since 2000 both in the French and Spanish sides of the Pyrenees (Figure 1).

Figure 1:Evolution of snow cover area on the French Pyrenees (left) and Spanish Pyrenees (right) from the MODIS satellite: 2018 in red, 2017 in blue, other years since 2000 are in gray (source CESBIO).

- The water equivalent of the snowpack in the French Pyrenees as simulated by the SIM2 model of Météo-France (Figure 2) exceeds almost twice the average from 1981 to 2010. It is approximately the 10th highest value since 1959 (although it remains far from the record year 2013).

Figure 2:Evolution the snow water equivalent on April 01 in the French Pyrenees since 1959 (source Météo France).

- The snowpack in the headwater catchments of the Ebro river basin is about the double of the average from the last 5 years (Figure 3).

Figure 3:Evolution the snow water equivalent until April 01 2018 in the upper catchments of the Ebro river basin in Spain: 2018 in red, 2017 in blue, average of the last 5 years in dotted black line (source Hydrological Confederation of the Ebro).

This assessment is based on the ongoing work within the framework of various projects contributing to the development of OPCC, including ClimPy and Piragua projects, all co-financed up to 65% by FEDER funds through the Poctefa 2014-2020.



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