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Why This Matters: Seven percent may not sound like much. But, in the next few decades, as Borunda noted, “those bookending ‘snow droughts’ could occur 40% of the time.” This rise would be devastating for these regions; as Laurie Huning, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California Irvine, told Phys.org, “Snow is an important global water resource that plays a vital role in natural processes, agriculture, hydropower and basic socioeconomic conditions of various regions.”
These snow droughts could wreak havoc across the West which relies on snow to keep soils resistant against fires, maintain ecosystems rich in biodiversity, and provide water for millions of people (a threat already apparent in the alarming water loss across the Colorado River which is fed by Rocky Mountain snow).
An Intensifying History: Not only do we now know that snow droughts are going to become more frequent, but recent research has also shown that this problem has been intensifying for a long while. Environmental engineers out of UC Irvine, including Laurie Huning (quoted above), have “developed a new framework for characterizing snow droughts around the world.” What they found was deeply concerning. As Phys.org reported, these researchers discovered a 28% increase in the “length of intensified snow-water deficits in the Western United States during the second half” of the period from 1980 to 2018.
Snow’s Significance: As Borunda wrote, “snow is a secret saviour.” While we may think of snow as auxiliary, it is not for many populations of both people and animals. According to Huning, “Snowmelt provides freshwater to more than a billion people, one sixth of the world’s population.” And, Huning noted, “Water from melting snow irrigates the crops of farming regions including areas that seldom if ever receive any snow during the winter, such as California’s Central Valley.”
The U.S. Air Force has finally learned enough information to begin cleaning up a jet fuel leak from Albuquerque’s drinking water supply. The Kirtland Air Force Base plans to write and submit a report to the New Mexico Environmental Department before the agency can approve and make recommendations for cleanup. This comes as a relief […]
by Jessica Grannis We’re in the dog days of summer now, and lots of folks are headed to the beach to make up for lost time since the pandemic began. My favorite part of traveling to the coast from DC is watching my surroundings slowly turn from urban areas to the forests of the coastal […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The West is currently in the middle of a severe drought, and Lake Powell, the region’s second-largest reservoir, is at its lowest level in decades. The lake, located on the Colorado River, is effectively a human-made storage basin that keeps the regional water supply in balance under the 100-year-old […]
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