Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study shows desert droughts lead to earlier annual mountain snow loss

26.06.2007
A new study spearheaded by the University of Colorado at Boulder’s National Snow and Ice Data Center indicates wind-blown dust from drought-stricken and disturbed lands in the Southwest can shorten the duration of mountain snow cover hundreds of miles away in the Colorado mountains by roughly a month.

Led by Tom Painter, the study found seasonal snow coverage in the sub-alpine and alpine areas of the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado disappeared by about 30 days earlier in 2006 because of heavy dust deposition from the Colorado Plateau roughly 200 miles away. The dust, which probably came from northeast Arizona and northwest New Mexico deserts, reduced the snow’s reflectivity, allowing more of the sun’s energy to warm the snow pack and cause it to melt earlier.

“The connection between dust and lower snow reflectance is already established, but the amount of impact measured and modeled in this system stunned us,” said Painter. “The fact that dust can reduce snow cover duration so much – a month earlier -- transforms our understanding of mountain sensitivity to external forcings.”

While just three or four significant dust deposition events occurred annually in the San Juan Mountains between 2003 and 2005, eight occurred in 2006, according to the authors. In 2006, the sub-alpine regions of the San Juans melted out 24 to 35 days earlier than previous, relatively dust-free years, according to ground measurements and computer simulations.

A paper on the subject was published online June 23 in Geophysical Research Letters. Co-authors on the study included CU-Boulder’s Andrew Barrett, Jason Neff, Maureen Cassidy, Corey Lawrence and Lang Farmer, as well as Christopher Landry from the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies in Silverton, Colo., and Kathleen McBride of Northern Arizona University.

The Colorado Plateau is centered in the Four Corners region of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah and covers an area of roughly 130,000 square miles.

Prior to the widespread ecological disturbance of the Western U.S. in the late 1980s, the high mountain snow would have likely lasted several weeks longer in most regions, according to the researchers.

“Recent studies agree that with global warming, the Southwest will be warmer and drier,” said Painter. “Enhanced dust deposition is likely, further shortening snow cover duration. Ultimately, a warming climate and the dust it generates will affect river run-off and soil moisture in the mountains, not only in the Western United States but across many of the world’s mountains.”

Snowmelt provides drinking water to one-sixth of the world’s population and provides important agricultural and recreational resources for the Western United States, said Painter. The progression of climate change may alter the reliability of spring snowmelt, including its quantity, timing and duration, he said.

Stephanie Renfrow | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Stagnation in the South Pacific Explains Natural CO2 Fluctuations
23.02.2018 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

nachricht First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals
22.02.2018 | University of Arizona

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>