A recent report has revealed that the snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California is at an all-time low, and it's making the state's drought much worse.
California has been in the middle of an extreme drought for the past few years, and climate scientists from the University of Arizona think they have figured out the big reason why. According to a report from the LA Times, the snowpack in the northern part of the state’s Sierra Nevada Mountains is the lowest it has been in the past 5 centuries.
Using inferences taken from the rings of trees spread throughout the mountain ranges, paleoclimatologist Valerie Trouet was able to deduce that there hasn’t been this little snow present in the mountains in about 500 years.
The findings provide further evidence that California’s drought isn’t merely a part of a larger historical cycle, but is actually being affected by a warming climate. The snowpack in the mountains is a crucial component of the state’s water cycle, and all of the evidence points towards the current conditions being an anomaly.
Snow accumulates high up in the mountains during the winter months, covering the ground in meters of densely packed snow. As spring arrives, the snow begins to melt and feed into small mountain streams that eventually connect into bigger rivers that flow downstate.
As the water makes its journey from the mountains to the major cities in the south, it passes through some of the most agriculturally active regions in the country. Farmers, cities, and private property owners all draw from this one source of water before it gets to Los Angeles, where the demand for freshwater is as high as ever.
The Sierra Nevadas typically provide California with a third of its water, but much like the rest of the state, the source is coming up short this year. As California struggles to confront the problems they face surrounding the worsening drought, many are beginning to wonder how on Earth they will replace some of the sources they came to rely upon.