The federal government runs more than 700 telemetry stations in high-mountain watersheds in 13 Western states. The stations deliver vital data about water supply, which is fed into climate models. Using the data, the models have predicted a decline in Western snowpack and earlier spring melting, which would not only put water supplies at risk but also increase the risk of floods, droughts and severe wildfires.
New, on-the-ground findings support the predictions. University of Arizona scientists studied the data together with snow records from 1982 to 2016 and confirmed the models – in parts of the western United States, annual snow mass has declined by 41 percent and the snow season is 34 days shorter.