Rocky Mountains

When there’s less snow than usual in the Rocky Mountains, skiers and snowboarders are not the only ones affected.

Deems: “We get the majority of our water supply in the western U.S. from snowmelt. The snow accumulates in the mountains and runs off in the summer and provides us a water supply during our hot dry summer.”

That’s Jeffrey Deems, research scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado.

Deems: “Really, the snowpack is our biggest reservoir.”

Deems says that snowfall varies year by year and always has. But, overall, global warming is causing less snow, especially in western states.

With less snow than usual in the Rockies, skiers and snowboarders aren't the only ones affected. Click To Tweet

Increasingly, warm temperatures in the early spring are also making the snow that does fall melt faster than it used to. This can cause springtime flooding. It also means less snowpack remains in the mountains to supply water to the region later in the year. So this springtime runoff can cause water shortages in the summer.

The bottom line is that Rocky Mountain snow affects life year-round. It provides water for drinking and for crops – even in the months when winter is a distant memory.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

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