A team of paleoclimatologists who were looking for historical roots of California drought found that the amount of snow on Sierra Nevada Mountains has never been so low in more than five centuries.
Scientists who published the findings Sept. 14 in the journal Nature Climate Change said that they were expecting 2015 to be “extreme,” but not like that.
University of Arizona’s Valerie Trouet, the lead author of the study, and her fellow researchers wanted to learn if there are any historical underpinnings of the Golden State’s four-year drought. Their findings show that global warming would eventually dry out the state’s fresh water reservoirs by shrinking its mountain snowpack.
Sierra Nevada snowpack accounts for one-third of the state’s water supply, researchers said. One third comes from ground water aquifers, and another third comes from streams, rivers, and reservoirs.
UCLA’s Mark Gold believes that the state’s shrinking snowpack represents a concern that has a severity of 11 on a scale from 1 to 10.
“This is probably the biggest water supply concern our state is facing,”
Other researchers explained that global warming may trigger less snow and more precipitation in the state. But the water supply crisis could be tackled if authorities find a quick solution to capture the water that would just flow into the ocean.
The state’s shrinking snowpack has been monitored by authorities since the 1930s. Currently, there are more than 100 measuring stations installed across the Sierra Nevada.
State researchers found that the amount of snow water recorded in April was only five percent of the normal average on record. On Apr. 1, Gov. Jerry Brown revealed a series of mandatory water restrictions while standing in a Sierra Nevada meadow unusually dry for that part of the season.
The University of Arizona team based their findings on tree ring information gathered by a couple of studies. The first study used the rings to obtain a larger picture of the amount of rainfall in the area in the last 615 years, while the second study used tree rings to measure temperatures during the same time span.
The research team learned that the ‘snow drought’ recorded this year in the state’s mountains has a less than five percent chance of occurring more than once in five centuries. And, the group argued that temperatures had more to do with it than lack of precipitation because unusually high temperatures make water to fall as rainfall, rather than snowfall.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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