Sierra Nevada snowpack lowest in five centuries

Sierra Nevada snowpack lowest in five centuries

University of Arizona

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IMAGE: These two natural-color satellite images of the snow cover in the Sierra Nevada in California and Nevada show the last year with average winter snowfall, 2010, compared with 2015 –… view more  Credit: NASA/MODIS

Snowpack in California’s Sierra Nevada in 2015 was at the lowest level in the past 500 years, according to a new report led by University of Arizona researchers.

The team’s research is the first to show how the 2015 snowpack compares with snowpack levels for the previous five centuries.

“Our study really points to the extreme character of the 2014-15 winter. This is not just unprecedented over 80 years — it’s unprecedented over 500 years,” said Valerie Trouet, an associate professor of dendrochronology at the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.

“We should be prepared for this type of snow drought to occur much more frequently because of rising temperatures,” Trouet said. “Anthropogenic warming is making the drought more severe.”

California’s current record-setting drought began in 2012, the researchers note in their report. Read more.