New study about Dust on Snow Controls Springtime River Rise in West

According to studies publications from the journal Geophysical Research from the University of Utah, University of Colorado, and University of California, Santa Barbara.

“They found that when it’s clean, the rise to the peak streamflow is slower, and generally you get a smaller peak.” Painter said. “When the snowpack is really dusty, water just blasts out of the mountains.” The finding runs contrary to the widely held assumption that spring air temperature determines the likelihood of flooding.

“As air temperature continues to climb, it’s going to have more influence,” he said. Temperature controls whether precipitation falls as snow or as rain, for example, so ultimately it controls how much snow there is to melt. But, he said, “temperature is unlikely to control the variability in snowmelt rates. That will still be controlled by how dirty or clean the snowpack is.”

Skiles noted, “Dust on snow does not only impact the mountains that make up the headwaters of Colorado River. Surface darkening has been observed in mountain ranges all over the world, including the Alps and the Himalaya. What we learn about the role of dust deposition for snow-melt timing and intensity here in the western U.S. has global implications for improved snow-melt forecasting and management of snow water resources and the Variation in rising limb of Colorado River snow melt runoff hydro graph controlled by dust radiate forcing in snow.”

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/

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