In the night to Sunday, 07 Jan. 2018 an extremely seldom weather phenomenon occurred in the Algerian desert: snowfall in the Sahara. Global SnowPack, an EOC satellite-based data product featuring snow, shows how rare this event is in the Sahara.
Snow in North Africa is not unusual in principle. It is a regular occurrence in the Atlas mountain range in the north-western part of the continent. But the recent snowfall in Algeria’s dune landscape is definitely rare. A look at Global SnowPack, developed by EOC scientists, provides convincing proof. This data product is based on a time series of daily snow information collected since the year 2000 and can provide a variety of snow statistics for every place on earth: average duration of snow cover, the beginning and end of an average snow season, the stability of the stretch of snow, and deviations from the long-term average for individual years or days. The map shows the average duration of snow cover for parts of Europe and North Africa. The snow that fell in in Algeria in January 2018 is highlighted in red. This is only the second time since the 2000 that snow has been recorded in this region.
Global SnowPack provides important information on possible changes in the snow regime. These have significant effects on nature and economic life, including the supply of drinking water in arid regions, the availability of water for hydropower plants and agriculture, and winter tourism.