Thursday March 21, 2024


A network of artificial streams is teaching scientists how California’s mountain waterways — and the ecosystems that depend on them — may be impacted by a warmer, drier climate.

Over the next century, climate change is projected to bring less snowfall to the Sierra Nevada. Smaller snowpacks, paired with warmer conditions, will shift the annual snowmelt earlier into the year, leaving less water to feed streams and rivers during the hot summer months. By 2100, mountain streams are predicted to reach their annual base, or “low-flow,” conditions an average of six weeks earlier in the season than now.

In a new study, University of California, Berkeley, researchers used a series of nine artificial stream channels off Convict Creek in Mammoth Lakes, California, to mimic the behavior of headwater streams under present-day conditions and future climate change scenarios.

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