Tuesday April 9, 2024

Del Norte Triplicate

A heavy snowpack is fun for skiers and sledders, and it also acts like an open-air storage tank that melts away to provide water for drinking, irrigation and other purposes during dry months.

But exactly how much water is held in snowpacks, and for how long?

That information, critical to water managers around the globe, has taken on new clarity thanks to a new, more holistic calculation technique developed by researchers in the Oregon State University College of Engineering.

“Water managers tend to consider a portfolio of infrastructure options – surface water reservoirs, groundwater recharge programs, etc. – to match supply to demand,” OSU’s David Hill said. “Increased understanding of how much water is in snow should allow them to make long-term planning decisions for how to adjust that portfolio.”

The study by Hill, a professor of civil engineering, and doctoral student Christina Aragon looked at nearly four decades of snowpack data. Through their new metric, which they call snow water storage, they identified a 22% drop in how much water is held annually in the mountain snowpacks of the lower 48 states.

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