A project to restore a damaged meadow in the Sierra Nevada shows the possibilities for improving an important mountain ecosystem. It can also store precious groundwater as climate change shrinks mountain snowpack, a vital source of fresh water in the American West.
Warming Sierra Nevada temperatures mean young trees of cold-adapted species are growing at elevations hundreds of feet higher than trees counted 80 years ago — taking entire habitats with them.
As wintertime temperatures warm in the Sierra Nevada, precipitation shifts from snow to rain. That means snowpack is shrinking — and changing the entire foundation for people’s water supply across the American West.