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Sierra Nevada Snowpack Would Likely Not Recover From The Current Drought Until 2019

First Posted: Jul 18, 2016 07:01 AM EDT

The depleted Sierra Nevada snowpack, which is the major source of water for drinking and farming in California, due to drought, will not recover until 2019, according to researchers. They also said that the monster El Nino would not likely bring enough rainfall to refill the decreasing snowpack.

The study was published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of American Geophysical Union. In the study, the researchers used the daily maps of the Sierra Nevada taken from NASA Landsat satellites and the snow survey data gathered by California's Department of Water Resources to know the snowpack's current volume. They also aimed to foresee how much water is available in the snowpack. They estimated the snowpack's total volume for each year from 1951 to 2015.

They discovered that in 2015, the water volume of the snowpack was just 2.9 cubic kilometers. The typical year is about 18.6 cubic kilometers. The team also found that that the winter's strong El Nino did not bring enough rain to fill the snowpack. They concluded then that it would likely take until 2019 for the snowpack to recover from the 2012- 2015 drought, according to Earth & Space Science News.

The goal of the study is to create a detailed, continuous picture of the historical snowpack and determine the primary factors that cause it to vary. It will improve models in foreseeing how much water will available from the snowpack in the generation to come and will inform the water management decisions.

The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range located in the Western United States. Most of the range lies in the state of California. It is part of the American Cordillera, which is a chain of mountain ranges (cordillera). These mountains are key sources for much of the California's water.

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