It’s something mountain dwellers have been saying for some time now. ‘The lower elevations just aren’t getting the same snow they used to.’
Now a study published in the hydrological science journal Water is confirming that belief. The study suggests that in Tahoe and the northern Sierra in general, the average elevation where snow melts to rain and visa versa has risen roughly 236′ over the course of the last 10 years.
“If true, [the hypothesis] suggests that continued increases in sea-surface temperatures and increased frequencies in atmospheric river landfalls may exacerbate future snowpack decline in the Sierra Nevada.”
The study utilized data from Doppler imaging, snow cover satellite imagery, as well as 9 separate ‘mid-mountain’ weather stations across the Northern Sierra mountain range. The study found that heightened snow levels will likely cause problems for surrounding populations and environments who rely heavily on consistent mountain snowfall for their water supplies.
The study also showed how climate change has resulted in rising sea surface temperatures that have the power to super charge El Niños, which could give way to more warm precipitation events– resulting in more rain than snow. “Such changes will have negative implications for water availability,” concludes the study.
Find the entire Study here: Winter Snow Level Rise in the Northern Sierra Nevada from 2008 to 2017