From: UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, RENO via EurekAlert!
Published August 17, 2016 09:32 AM

Slower snowmelt affects downstream water availability in western mountains

Western communities are facing effects of a warming climate with slower and earlier snowmelt reducing streamflows and possibly the amount of water reaching reservoirs used for drinking water and agriculture, according to a study published in July.

"As the climate warms, there is actually a slower snowmelt - both in timing and rates, which makes for a less efficient streamflow," Adrian Harpold, ecohydrologist at the University of Nevada, Reno said. Harpold, who initiated the study two years ago at the University of Colorado Boulder, is a co-author of the paper published in AGU publications Geophysical Research Letters.

"I know, it's counterintuitive, but with a warming climate snowmelt starts sooner in the season, and at a slower rate because the warming occurs earlier when days are shorter and we have less sunlight," he said. "What makes runoff less efficient is that slower snowmelt reduces the amount of moisture being pushed deep into the subsurface where it is less likely to evaporate"

Continue reading at EurekAlert!

Snow Pack in the Sierra Nevada

Image Credits: Jesse Allen / NASA

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