Snowmelt in the mid-latitude European mountains is undergoing significant spatiotemporal changes. Regional snow line elevation (RSLE) is an appropriate indicator for assessing snow cover variations in mountain areas. To derive regional snow line dynamics during the ablation seasons 1984–2018, the present study unprecedentedly introduced a readily applicable framework. The framework constitutes four steps: atmospheric and topographic correction, snow classification, RSLE retrieval, and regional snow line retreat curve (RSLRC) derivation. The developed framework has been successfully applied to 8641 satellite images acquired by Landsat, ASTER, and Sentinel-2. The results of the intra-annual regional snow line variations show that: (1) regional snow lines in the Alpine catchments preserve the longest; (2) RSLEs are lower in the northern Pyrenees than in the southern part; (3) regional snow lines persist the shortest in the Carpathian catchments; and (4) during the end of the ablation season 2018, intermediate snowfall events in the catchments Adda, Tagliamento, and Uzh are observed. In terms of the long-term inter-annual variations, significantly accelerating snow line recession is detected in the northern Pyrenean catchment Ariege. In the Alpine catchment Alpenrhein and Drac, RSLRCs are shifting towards lower accumulated air-temperature (AT) significantly, with the magnitude of −3.77 °C·a−1
(Alpenrhein) and −3.99 °C·a−1
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.