Vanishing Snow Threatens West

Global warming blamed for shrinking snowpacks
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2008 11:44 AM CST
Department of Water Resources hydrologist Frank Gehrke, left, reads the depth of the snowpack to colleague Dave Hart, right, during the snow survey held near Echo Summit, Calif., Wednesday, March 28,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Blame for a dramatic decrease in Western mountain snowpacks rests squarely on global warming, researchers said yesterday. Using computer models of 50 years' worth of data, scientists confirmed warming is turning snowfall into rain, melting the packs earlier and drying up more rivers by summer. The trend threatens to trigger a crisis in the West and Southwest, reports the Washington Post.

The water content of the snowpack has decreased annually since 1950 in eight of the nine mountain regions studied, ranging from 10% in the Colorado Rockies to 40% in Oregon's Cascades. Hopes that the trend would be self-correcting have been dashed, said a researcher: "We have found very clearly that global warming" is responsible for the disappearing snowpack and "things will be getting worse."