Wildfires and drought: This is one reason why
Sierra Nevada Snowpack Hits a 500-Year LowThe epic drought reaches a low-water mark (literally) for the snows that provide much of the state’s water in the spring and summer.
By Katherine Bagley, InsideClimate News
Sep 14, 2015
The Sierra Nevada snowpack—the source of more than one-third of California's water supply—is the lowest it has been in 500 years.
The finding comes from a new historical analysis of tree rings published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change. It demonstrates how severe California's four-year-old drought has become. The state began rationing water for the first time in its 165-year history earlier this year.
The Sierra Nevada snowpack is a critical source of water for California during the spring and summer months, when rain is rare. As the snow melts, the water replenishes soil moisture and reservoirs below. With less snow this year, the region's already strained agriculture sector, drinking water supplies and hydroelectric power face serious challenges. It also means California's forests will remain dry, fueling already rampant wildfires.