Joint Body on the status of the mountain snow cover (SMSC)

(2022 – 2025)

Joint Body co-chairs

Wolfgang Schöner, University of Graz, Austria
Lijuan Ma, China Meteorological Administration, China
Shawn Marshall, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canada

Members are listed under the Work Packages WP1, WP2, WP3, and WP4 below.
Parent IACS Division: Snow and Avalanches


Snow is a key feature of mountain regions globally. Snow helps mountain regions to serve as water towers, providing a critical supply of water to downstream areas. Furthermore, water from snow melt is essential for power generation, irrigation, water supply, groundwater recharge and aquatic ecosystems. Besides hydrology, snow plays an important role in numerical weather prediction, for sustaining mountain ecosystems, and tourism. Moreover, snow related natural hazards impact directly or indirectly people and infrastructure, in all mountain regions.


The overall goal of this Joint Body is to highlight the relevance of the mountain snow cover in general. The main objectives are:

  • The primary research objective is to provide robust information on mountain snow cover changes at a global scale in the past few decades based on compiling and standardizing existing data (sources) at sufficiently high resolution. The study will include surface observations (from weather and hydro stations as well as from avalanche services), remote sensing products, downscaled reanalysis data and snow model simulations. While station data provide highly temporally resolved and long-term local information, satellite products can significantly increase spatial coverage of snow observations;
  • In addition to compiling and analyzing existing data series by investigating spatial and temporal trends of snow cover properties and derived indicators, this initiative also aims to better understand processes of accumulation and ablation based on existing modelling and observational studies;
  • Another important objective of the initiative is open access to the snow data for the research community, and to contribute to the operational capacity building in terms of understanding mountain snow cover changes and its impacts on and responses to climate, water and environment.

  • Work Packages

    WP1: Mountain snow data quality control and homogenization for use in climatology and hydrology

    Members (in alphabetical order):

    WP2: Status of snow cover multi-decadal changes in mountain regions of the world

    Members (in alphabetical order):

    WP3: Snow accumulation processes

    Members (in alphabetical order):

    WP4: Snow ablation processes – research gaps in mountain snow modelling

    Members (in alphabetical order):