In this study, we classified the variability in snow cover persistence across China by using a novel method; continuous snow cover days and variability of snow cover were used as the evaluation indicators based on a long-term Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) snow cover extent (SCE) product. The product has been generated by the snow research team in the Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources (NIEER), Chinese Academy of Sciences. There were obvious differences in snow cover classification in three snow cover areas (northern Xinjiang, northeast China, and the Tibetan Plateau): northern Xinjiang was dominated by persistent snow cover, most regions of northeast China were covered by persistent and periodic variable snow cover. There was the most abundant snow cover classification in the Tibetan Plateau. The extents of persistent and periodic variable snow cover were gradually shrinking due to rising temperatures and decreasing snowfall during 1981–2019. In contrast, non-periodic variable snow cover areas increased significantly. This method takes into account the stability, continuity, and variability of snow cover, and better captures the characteristics and changes of snow cover across China. Based on our research, we found that snow disasters in ephemeral-type (belong to non-periodic variable snow cover) regions cannot be well prevented because of the unfixed snow cover timing. Therefore, we recommend that monitoring and forecasting of snow cover in these snow cover regions should be strengthened.
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