High Sierra & Great Basin Transforming from Seasonal to Ephemeral Snow Pack

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 11 January 2019


Winter Snows are a Primary Source of Water for the Western U.S.

University of Nevada, Reno uses 15 years of satellite imagery to study snow's comings and goings,
University of Nevada, Reno, January 2, 2019.


Seasonal to Ephemeral Snow
“...snowpacks in the Great Basin appear to be transitioning from seasonal, with a predictable amount and melt rate, to "ephemeral," or short-lived, which are less predictable and only last up to 60 days.”

"Small temperature changes can lead to large ecological changes."

"More intermittent snowpacks means water flow is more difficult to predict. We might not get as much water into the ground, throwing off the timing of water for plant root systems, reducing our supply and use, and even affecting businesses such as tourism."

The Study
“...analyzed both ground-based and satellite-based remote sensing data collected every day from 2001 to 2015.”

Dire Drier Times Ahead
“In the Great Basin and eastern Sierra Nevada, shifts to more ephemeral snowpacks are due primarily to more rain falling instead of snow. They show that warming is likely to increase ephemeral snowpacks, even beyond the extreme 2015 drought. ”

“...vegetation types at the greatest risk due to more ephemeral snowpacks were quaking aspen, red fir, Gambel oak and big mountain sagebrush, which represent ecosystems across the Great Basin.”


The Great Basin

"The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America. It spans nearly all of Nevada, much of Oregon and Utah, and portions of California, Idaho, and Wyoming. It is noted for both its arid climate and the basin and range topography that varies from the North American low point at Badwater Basin to the highest point of the contiguous United States, less than 100 miles (160 km) away at the summit of Mount Whitney."


Recent Sierra Nevada Climate-Watershed Research

Sierra Snowpack Could Drop 79% by End of Century


41% Sierra & Rocky Mountains Snow Pack Loss since ‘82



SOUTHWEST UNITED STATES: Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic Southwest Drought

Climate Change News: Whole Southwest of US Undergoing Aridification


Observing the Decline of the Doomed Forests in the Southwestern US

Tree News, Widespread Pinyon Pine Mortality Throughout Much of the Southwestern U.S.


Beetles Devastate Western Pines, Heat, Droughts, Beetles, & Fires All Continue Rising

Tree News, Dire Warning for California Plants: Half of You are Dead by 2100





Tree, Forest, & Plant News, 2019


January 2019 General Nature News




News Of Nature


Climate Destruction News



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Spider Forum

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Butterfly News


Health and Fitness

Mountain Safety

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Female Trail

High Sierra History


Astro-Phys, Space, & Science News

High Sierra Geology News

Fish & Water News







High Sierra, Sierra, Great Basin, snowpack, changing, seasonal, to, ephemeral, snowpack


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