Study: Snow Melting Earlier In The Year, Leaving Less For Reservoirs

Aug 16, 2016

Research by the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Colorado, Boulder shows that rising temperatures are causing snow to melt earlier in the year, and that's not good news.

The Truckee Meadows depends on runoff from snowmelt to fill its reservoirs and streams for drinking, agriculture and recreation.

Rising temperatures are causing snow to melt earlier in the year, when days are shorter and there’s less sunlight to melt the snow. This slows down the process, which means evaporation increases and less water makes it to regional reservoirs.

Adrian Harpold is an ecohydrologist at UNR and co-author of the study.

“Recognize that our water supplies are changing,” Harpold says. “Really we need to have a conversation that goes between our policy makers, our communities and the science community to really understand how our water systems work. And a lot of it will come down to better managing our water.”

The study began in 2013 and looked at mountain ranges across the entire Western United States.