The purpose of this study is to investigate the interannual variability of winter snow cover in the northern hemisphere, using the satellite-derived monthly snow cover data (NOAA/NESDIS) from 1967 to 1987. An empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis is made to see the typical pattern of snow cover variations during winter. EOF1, which represents about 40% of the total variance, shows concurrent snow cover patterns between Eurasia and North America. EOF2, which represents over 20% of the total variance, shows a negatively correlated pattern between the eastern and western parts of the continent in Eurasia and North America.
We examined time series of mean snow cover for key regions of the northern hemisphere to investigate variations depicted in the EOF patterns in more detail. We selected two key regions which represent continental-scale snow variation. One is the eastern part of Eurasia and the other is the western part of North America. The time series of the two key regions show an apparent one-year lag relationship of heavy snow cover years; winters with extensive snow cover over Eurasia tend to be followed by extensive snow cover over North America during the succeeding winters.