Few things are more important to California’s water supply than the water content of the mountain snowpack at the start of the state’s warm season. In the latest round of our Climate Challenge game, experts and participants predicted the water content of the Sierra Nevada snowpack on May 1, 2015. The answer was disturbingly low.
Strong evidence suggests that mountain areas are warming more quickly than lower elevations—with serious consequences for water supplies. But historical weather observations from mountain ranges are limited, leaving scientists with plenty of questions.
A new analysis suggests that in the winter following a La Niña, dryness in California often deepens into drought. Consistent with that pattern, California’s current drought began in 2011-12, during the second year of a La Niña episode.
In northern Alaska, ponds are shrinking and disappearing as the frozen ground beneath them thaws. The loss may have serious consequences for migratory birds and the subsistence hunters that depend on them.
Arctic sea ice extent reached 5.61 million square miles on February 25, and then began to retreat. Unless a late growth spurt takes place, it will be the smallest winter maximum in the satellite record.
Restoring a healthy balance between sea otters and their sea urchin prey comes with a modest but meaningful bonus: halting the overgrazing of kelp forests and increasing their ability to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.