Girl Planting seeds

'Snow droughts' are coming for the American West

On April 1 each year, researchers ski and snowshoe out into the high mountains of the western Unite States to jab stakes into the bright, crystalline snow, checking the thickness of the blanket. But in 2012, many researchers could barely travel on snow to their test sites—and when they got there, there was almost no snow to measure.  2013 was almost as bad. 2014, the same. And in 2015, on the April 1 assessment, many sites across the Sierra Nevada mountains were bald and snowless—the worst snow drought, scientists found, in at least the last 500 years.  One bad snow year can wreak havoc on water systems across the western U.S. More than two is territory scientists are just beginning to understand.  Read more...

 

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