-John Muir’s Unpublished Journal (1938)
While California, Washington, and Oregon’s multiyear drought has officially ended, it’s only a sneak-peek into our future hydrologic landscape. To understand what’s happening to all the water in the Western U.S., we need to look up, literally: alpine snow supplies the western U.S with over 75% of its freshwater. But a new study analyzing decades of data from sites across the Western US shows that almost all snowpack is in decline, and they’re declining fast. According to their estimates, we’ve lost 21% of snowpack–that’s enough water to overflow Lake Mead, one of the largest manmade lakes in the world.
|Photo by Sam Dawson on Unsplash|
Snow & Tell
If there was a category on Yelp for field monitoring stations, I would give the SNOTEL 5 stars.
Image Credit: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
|Animation of the snowpack in California changing from January 2011 to January 2015, showing the dramatic effect of drought on snowpack. Image Credit: NOAA NOHRSC; Animation: Tom Yulsman|
While high elevations like the Sierras and the Rockies aren’t as affected by temperature changes, they found that lower elevations like the Pacific Northwest are especially fragile when it comes to snowpack. These places show the most significant declines, and in the future, these areas are going to change drastically.
|The amount of snow that’s disappeared from the western US is roughly equivalent to the entire volume of Lake Mead (32 km3) Image: Getty|
A snowballing problem
“What’s going on in this video? Our science teacher claims that the pain comes from a small electrical shock, but we believe that this is due to the absorption of light. Please help us resolve this dispute!”
(We’ve since updated this article to include the science behind vegan ice cream. To learn more about ice cream science, check out The Science of Ice Cream, Redux)
Over at [email protected] there’s an easy recipe for homemade ice cream. But what kind of milk should you use to make ice cream? And do you really need to chill the ice cream base before making it? Why do ice cream recipes always call for salt on ice?