By Molly Messick
Laramie, WY – A study of centuries-worth of data from the Northern Rockies shows warming temperatures bring about declining snowpack. That could seriously alter the region's water supply and management. Greg Pederson with the U-S-G-S Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center is the primary author of the article, which was published in the current edition of Science Magazine. He says that temperature and the path of storms both affect precipitation - but that sustained warmer temperatures are associated with thinner snowpack.
"Over the course of these records, basically you see storm track controlling where the precipitation goes, and whether snowpack is high or low over the north and south regions. But of course during intervals of extensive warming across the western U.S., you see temperature driving the declines."
Pederson says data reconstructed from tree rings indicates that there have been two warm intervals that compare recent warming, over the last century.