Overall, land precipitation for the globe has increased by ~2% since 1900, however, precipitation changes have been spatially variable over the last century. Instrumental records show that there has been a general increase in precipitation of about 0.5-1.0%/decade over land in northern mid-high latitudes, except in parts of eastern Russia. However, a decrease of about -0.3%/decade in precipitation has occurred during the 20th century over land in sub-tropical latitudes, though this trend has weakened in recent decades. Due to the difficulty in measuring precipitation, it has been important to constrain these observations by analyzing other related variables. The measured changes in precipitation are consistent with observed changes in streamflow, lake levels, and soil moisture (where data are available and have been analyzed).
Northern Hemisphere annual snow cover extent has consistently remained below average since 1987, and has decreased by about 10% since 1966. This is mostly due to a decrease in spring and summer snowfall over both the Eurasian and North American continents since the mid-1980s. However, winter and autumn snow cover extent has shown no significant trend for the northern hemisphere over the same period.
Improved satellite data shows that a general trend of increasing cloud amount over both land and ocean since the early 1980s, seems to have reversed in the early 1990s, and total cloud amount of land and ocean now appears to be decreasing. However, there are several studies that suggest regional cloudiness, perhaps especially in the thick precipitating clouds has increased over the 20th century.