After a nice early winter snowstorm like Colorado just had, it may seem counter to common sense to posit that the Rockies are experiencing a changing climate, with more rain than snow in the early winter and in the spring, but that's what is happening. Here's an article about snowpack from the Casper Star Tribune. From the article, "The Rocky Mountains are seeing more rain than snow at the start and end of winter, an indication of global warming, an expert said. Another sign of climate change: The spring snowmelt is starting a week earlier than it did 50 years ago...
"But combined with an earlier spring, shrinking snowpacks rob moisture from the soil at the start of growing season. 'It sets the stage for drought,' he said. The West is experiencing more and larger wildfires in recent summers, he said. Soil moisture -- or the lack of it -- is a critical factor for farmers and ranchers in mountain states. Dry soils absorb snowmelt faster, leaving less runoff for mountain streams, which can't recharge reservoirs such as Lake Powell, a source of water for 25 million people and irrigation for millions of acres from Colorado to California. Lake Powell is barely half-full, reflecting a drought that took hold in 2000, government hydrologists say. Trenberth said that drought may not be over yet, despite some recovery from the past two wet winters. At the end of last winter, the Colorado Plateau snowpack looked substantial, but much of it evaporated into the air by May 1, Trenberth said."
Here's another story about the conference from the Salt Lake Tribune. They write, "It is possible for humankind to restore the global climate to equilibrium, but only if people drastically cut the pollution that contributes to climate change, said a leading expert on global warming. The natural balance will be restored only when carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses dip to 25 percent or 30 percent of current levels, said Kevin Trenberth, who leads the climate analysis section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. Trenberth joined Wednesday with Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson at the University of Utah College of Law to discuss the science and politics of climate change. Both noted such pollution controls were on the docket Wednesday at the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Utah Attorney General's Office has sided with the Bush administration against using the Clean Air Act to control carbon dioxide. Anderson criticized the federal government and many state governments, including Utah, for a lack of leadership on the issue. He focused instead on the actions being taken by citizens, local government and business to reduce the greenhouse gasses behind climate change."
So how is the snowpack doing? Here's an update from the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "...up to 2 feet of new snow was reported in the mountains. That added to the winter snowpack, which provides most of Colorado's water. Snowpack readings ranged from 66 percent to 122 percent of the historical average Wednesday. The statewide average was 92 percent. In Southern Colorado, the Arkansas Basin had 111 percent of the historical average, but the Upper Rio Grande Basin showed only a 68 percent reading."
Category: Colorado Water