Sierra Nevada Snowpack Hits 500-Year Low

“Unprecedented” level due to California’s historic drought

Sep 15, 2015
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Sierra Nevada Snowpack Hits 500-Year Low

Sierra Nevada snowpack typically accounts for about 30 percent of California's water supply.    AngMoKio / Wikipedia

A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday suggests that snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is at its lowest level in 500 years due to California’s record-setting drought.

Researchers determined the snow level by using tree-ring studies to compare snowpack on April 1 with estimates from the past half century. The measurements revealed that the snowpack’s water content was 5 percent of normal water content—a major problem since the Sierra Nevada snowpack typically accounts for about 30 percent of the state’s water supply.

“This is probably the biggest water supply concern our state is facing,” Mark Gold, associate vice chancellor for environment and sustainability at UCLA told the Los Angeles Times. “On a scale of one to ten, it’s 11.”

The study comes five months after California Governor Jerry Brown announced the first mandatory water restrictions in the state’s history, which were designed to reduce water usage by 25 percent.

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