Researchers Will Soon Predict Northwest Snowpack Before The Powder Even Falls
Farmers, cities, and conservationists rely on melting snow to water their crops, feed their aquifers, and fill streams and rivers for fish. But, usually, no one has any idea how much snowpack—and, thus, snowmelt—to expect until it’s too late.
“It’s important for farmers to understand what can they plant, and when should they plant?” NOAA scientist Sarah Kapnick explained when I caught her on the phone just before the government shutdown went into effect for her agency. “It also matters for people that are really interested in fisheries.”
That’s why Kapnick led a team of researchers to build a tool that can predict the snowpack eight months ahead of time, before the snow even falls. The researchers use conditions in July to predict how much snow will have accumulated in the mountains by the following March. They use observations of ocean temperatures and weather patterns—for example, whether or not it’s an El Niño year—and plug those initial conditions into three global climate models to generate a prediction for what the snowpack will look like eight months out.
Kapnick says the tool can make predictions for individual mountain ranges so each region knows what to expect.
The research was published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, but Kapnick and her team want to further refine their tool before making it available to the public.
Copyright 2018 Earthfix
This winter, the Kettle River Range in north-central Washington will be a little more wild. Continue Reading More Lynx Are Coming Soon To Washington’s Kettle Range
Spring bear hunts in Washington are postponed for 2022, following a vote of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in a meeting on Friday. Continue Reading Washington Pauses Controversial Spring Bear Hunt
Upper Columbia tribes want help to continue reintroducing salmon above Grand Coulee Dam. Continue Reading Tribes Ask For More Support For Salmon Reintroduction To The Upper Columbia