Publication Date December 14, 2021 | High Country News

Winter without snow is coming

Central Rockies
Jason Connolly / AFP / Getty
Photo Credit: Jason Connolly / AFP / Getty

Climate Signals summary: The fingerprints of human-caused climate change are all over the continuing drought in the Rocky Mountains leading to decreased snowpack - impacting everything from drinking water access to increased wildfire risk.

Article excerpt: 

Across the Central Rockies, it’s been an unseasonably warm, dry year. Denver smashed the record for its latest first measurable winter snow. Colorado ski resorts delayed opening because temperatures were too high to even produce fake snow. And Salt Lake City was entirely snowless through Novemberfor only the second time since 1976.

These snowless scenarios, while still an exception, are set to become much more common as early as 2040, according to a paper published in Nature Reviews Earth and Environment. Drawing from years of snowpack observations, the researchers project that in 35 to 60 years, the Mountain West will be nearly snowless for years at a time if worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are not rapidly reduced. This could impact everything from wildfires to drinking water.

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