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Climate experts in Sparks study global warming and water supplies


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  • Climate experts in Sparks study global warming and water supplies

    Climate experts in Sparks study global warming and water supplies

    Submitted by CYW92328
    SPARKS, Nev. (AP) -- As temperatures outside set a record for a second straight day, more than 100 of the nation's top climate experts were inside studying mounting evidence of global warming and its potential impact on Western water supplies.

    Their discussion included whether the continuing rise of temperatures in the Sierra and other Western mountains has not been slowed as expected by a cooling of Pacific Ocean waters during the last five years -- a possible signal of long-term warming in the decades to come.

    Warming temperatures could cause the Sierra snowpack to release less water over the summer when it is needed most, potentially limiting water supplies, forcing restrictions and limiting development.

    "It really doesn't matter why the climate is warming up," said Kelly Redmond of Reno's Desert Research Institute, one participant in the climate conference. "The question is should we start to react to this in the way we manage water?"

    "Some kind of larger temperature thing is going on," Redmond said. "We're not sure what it is but it would not be inconsistent with the climate warming issue."

    In a year of record highs across Northern Nevada, conditions are on pace for this October to be the hottest on record, said Gary Barbato of the National Weather Service.

    During 2003, average temperatures for the months of January, June and July were all the hottest since records began in 1888, with September 2003 and September 2001 tied for the warmest average, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported on Wednesday.

    It's unclear if this year's record temperatures are linked in any way to long-term climate change, but participants in the 28th Climate Diagnostic and Prediction workshop in Sparks said warming temperatures come with unsettling implications.

    "The trend has been for quite an extensive warming," said Daniel Cayan, director of climate research for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

    Since the late 1970s, rising springtime temperatures and warmer storms hitting the West have raised the level of the snowpack and altered the timing of the spring runoff, Cayan said.

    The spring runoff period is now arriving one to three weeks early, a phenomenon that could diminish the ability to store water for the summer in many communities, he said.

    If the trend continues, a third of the mountain snowpack could be lost by 2060 and "by the end of the century, you've lost half," Cayan said.

    2003 Associated Press
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