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Sierra Nevada Snow Won't End California's Thirst

Contributing to the problem is the fact that there are many more trees here than there used to be. A century ago, Dr. Safeeq said, Yosemite had perhaps 80 trees an acre; now the number is closer to 250. That means more of the melting snowpack never gets off the mountain to the valley below, he said. The greater number of trees is due in part to years of forest agency policies under which small natural fires were quickly extinguished to protect homes and other property in the mountains.

Central coast water supply is unaffected by snowpack levels

"[The streams] always get down to about the smae level. So the year-to-year variability in low flow in actually much lower than you might think," Grant said.

Related Documents: 

Water Resources in a Changing Climate

Gordon Grant (U.S. Forest Service), the conference’s Borland Lecturer in hydraulics, put forth a hypothesis of critical flow in mobile-bed streams [Grant, 1997].

Influence of Winter Season Climate Variability on Snow–Precipitation Ratio in the Western United States

We have to find ways to manage our headwaters sustainably and promote a culture of water conservation, as well,” Safeeq said. “Just because it rains, we can’t relax. No matter how much rain we get in the winter, we’re not going to have the same amount of water in the summers as we did when we had more snow.”

Experts forecast Northwest water woes

Here in Western Oregon, we should be somewhat insulated from water shortages caused by global warming due to a massive groundwater system that sits below the Cascade peaks and feeds rivers and streams in the region through a system of springs, according to Gordon Grant, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Forest Service. Grant estimates this natural reservoir holds some 30 cubic kilometers.