10 Jun 2011:
Snowpack Decline in Rockies
Has Rapidly Accelerated, Study Shows
A new study says snowpack decline in the northern Rocky Mountains over the last 30 years has been more severe than at any other time in nearly 1,000 years
. In an analysis of 66 tree-ring records, researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) found that the average spring snowpack in the northern Rockies in recent decades has been even lower — and experienced a more prolonged decline — than two other low-snowpack periods, one in the early 14th century and another in the 16th century. The report, published in the journal Science
, says the increasing role of warming on snowpack variability may foreshadow “fundamental impacts on streamflow and water supplies across the western United States.” Snowmelt from the Rockies drains into the Colorado, Columbia, and Missouri river basins, which together provide 60 to 80 percent of the water for 70 million people. Meteorological data show that snowpack in the last 30 years has been the lowest since record-keeping began a century ago, but the USGS study demonstrates that the recent decline is unusual over a 1,000-year time scale.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
Watch the video.
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.