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Top Story

Spring snow a no-go?

Spring snowpack, relied on by ski resorts and water managers throughout the Western United States, may be more vulnerable to a warming climate in coming decades. The University of Utah study models the year-to-year variability in precipitation and temperature in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and other ranges in the West. Researchers found that above a threshold elevation, the amount of spring snowpack is dependent more on the amount of precipitation in a year than the temperature. In other words, whether a year is wet matters more than if it’s warm. But below that threshold, temperature matters more. By the end of the century, according to the study, that threshold will move uphill by around 800 feet in the Wasatch and more in the Sierra Nevada, Cascades and parts of the Rocky Mountains.

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