Global warming blamed for reduced snow pack levels in mountain ranges.
A team of scientists from the United States and Europe are predicting that declining snow packs on mountain ranges could lead to Northern Hemisphere water shortages by the year 2060, according to a report on csmonitor.com.
Across the hemisphere, almost a hundred water basins depend on winter snow accumulation, and resulting spring thaws, to provide water to reservoirs. Reduced snow accumulation will put some 2 billion people in jeopardy of facing reduced water supplies, if current trends continue.
Water supplies from California’s already drought-stricken farmlands to areas in the Middle East are some of the more prominent areas of concern, and the researchers say the time to formulate a plan to manage the reduced water supplies is at hand.
Justin Mankin, a researcher at Columbia University’s Earth Institute in New York, and lead author on the study, said officials in charge of managing water supplies in many areas need to prepare for a world where water provided by seasonal snow-melt will not be available.
However, the report says that annual rainfall is predicted to continue to meet the demands required by the areas that depend on rainfall for their water supplies, including areas in North America, Russia, China, northern Europe and southeast Asia.
But the study shows water basins in California, Portugal and southern France are among those that will be most affected by the lack of winter snows. Included in the projected problem areas is the Shatt al-Arab basin, which provides water to many of the Middle East countries, including Iraq and Syria, and will make survival in those areas even more difficult.
The researchers say global warming is to blame for the decreased snowfall in the mountain ranges, citing the dry, mild winter in the United States this past year, that left the Western mountains of the US with record-low snow pack levels.
Despite the recent terrorism attacks in Paris, the city is still planning to host a climate summit starting this month to try to address some of the planet’s issues and work out a plan to reduce the effects of climate change.
Possibly some new ideas can be formulated to stop or slow down the declining snowfall levels and avoid catastrophic water shortages across the hemisphere.
The findings of the study can be found in the online journal Environmental Research Letters.