A Much Drier Future

Global warming to cut snow water storage 56 percent in Oregon watershed.

July 26, 2013 — A new report projects that by the middle of this century there will be an average 56 percent drop in the amount of water stored in peak snowpack in the McKenzie River watershed of the Oregon Cascade Range — and that similar impacts may be found on low-elevation maritime snow packs around the world.

At lower elevations, and warmer climes, the precipitation will fall as rain, and run off.  That which falls as snow will stick around until summer, then melt and feed the rivers, which supply water to farmers and cities.

“In the Willamette River, for instance, between 60-80 percent of summer stream flow comes from seasonal snow above 4,000 feet,” he said. “As more precipitation falls as rain, there will more chance of winter flooding as well as summer drought in the same season.

Lower amounts of snow will have impacts around the world

Globally, maritime snow comprises about 10 percent of Earth’s seasonal snow cover.
Snowmelt is a source of water for more than one billion people.

What will happen to farmers, and the food they produce, when the rivers run dry in the summer? How will cities provide water for their citizens?  Will hydro-electrical production drop?  And who is planning for this future?

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