Recent Increase in the Occurrence of Snow Droughts Followed by Extreme Heatwaves in a Warmer World

Xiangfei Li, Shuo Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The compound of late winter snow droughts and early spring heatwaves (compound snow drought and heatwave (CSDHW)) could dramatically affect ecosystems and water availability, but has not been systematically investigated. Here we present a comprehensive assessment of CSDHW events and possible driving mechanisms. We find that 7% of the snow-covered area experiences significant (p < 0.05) CSDHW events, and an average of 35% of snow droughts are followed by heatwaves during 1981–2020. The spatial extent of CSDHW is asymmetrically enlarging, with a significant increase in Eurasia and a relatively high fluctuation in North America. Specifically, the warm-type CSDHW (i.e., snow drought with normal or above-average precipitation followed by heatwave) occurs more frequently, with spatial coverage increasing faster than the dry-type CSDHW (i.e., snow drought with below-average precipitation followed by heatwave). In comparison, dry snow drought is more likely to be followed by heatwave due to intensified soil drought and atmospheric aridity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022GL099925
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2022


  • heatwave
  • snow drought

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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