A study by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography has found that manmade climate change is responsible for declining snow packs across the West, tangible evidence of the impact of the warming climate on water supplies.

As the earth warms, mountainous snow packs have gotten smaller. More precipitation has fallen as rain. Spring-time streams have gurgled to life much sooner, as snow has melted at a time when dams and levees can’t store the water because of flood-control measures.

The Washington Post says this about the study’s findings:

Although parts of the West have been hit by record snowfalls this winter, the data collected by the team showed that since 1950, the water content of the snowpack as of April 1 each year has decreased in eight of the nine mountain regions studied, by amounts ranging from 10 percent in the Colorado Rockies to 40 percent in the Oregon Cascades. Only the southern Sierra Nevada range did not show a drop.

Although the decline of the Western snowpack over the past few decades has been documented before, yesterday’s study is the most definitive in assigning the blame to human-induced climate change.

Snow packs serve as a massive drinking water reservoir for cities throughout the West. Tim Barnett, a Scripps marine geophysicist who authored the report, offered this context in the Los Angeles Times:

“The handwriting is on the wall,” said lead author Tim Barnett, a marine geophysicist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. “Mother Nature is going to stop being our water banker.”


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