From: Mike Gaworecki , MONGABAY.COM, More from this Affiliate
Published October 3, 2015 06:52 AM

Sierra Nevada snowpack at historic low

On April 1, California Governor Jerry Brown stood in a Sierra Nevada meadow atop parched, brown grass — at an elevation of 6,800 feet, where there would normally be five feet of snow at that time of year — and announced the state’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions.

The Golden State is still in the grip of a severe drought that began in 2012, and new research suggests it is one of the worst in centuries.

The day Gov. Brown announced the statewide water restrictions, snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas was reported to be at just 5 percent of its historical average, as calculated from records dating back to the 1930s.

Now a team of researchers at the University of Arizona has found that snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which is responsible for 30 percent of the state’s water supply, is actually at the lowest it’s been in five centuries. The results of the team’s study were recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

California, known for its dry summer climate, gets about 80 percent of its precipitation in winter months. The historically low snowpack in 2015 stems from a lack of winter precipitation and record high temperatures, according to the report.

Sierra Nevada mountains image via Shutterstock.

Read more at ENN Affiliate Monga Bay.

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