With a warming climate and changing weather patterns, it might be time to update the federal reservoir-level rules that dictate how much water can be kept in some western U.S. reservoirs during winter.
As more winter precipitation is falling as rain instead of snow, it’s changing how much water flows into reservoirs. It turns out it might be changing how much water trees can drink, too.
During spring and summer, Sierra Nevada meadows burst into a breath-taking display of wildflowers. Plus, they’re good for the birds and the bees.
The plants look like seaweed, rising from the shallow areas of Lake Tahoe to the surface. But in this fresh-water, high-mountain lake with a $5-billion recreation economy, invasive plants threaten both the environment and an international tourist destination.
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.