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Changes in Snowfall in the Southern Sierra Nevada of California Since 1916

Christy, J.R. and Hnilo, J.J. 2010. Changes in Snowfall in the Southern Sierra Nevada of California Since 1916. Energy & Environment 21: 233-234.
Christy and Hnilo (2010) reconstructed a time series of annual snowfall totals for Huntington Lake (elev. 2141 m) in the southern Sierra Nevada of California over the period 1916 to 2009. Results indicated a mean annual snowfall at Huntington Lake of 624 cm over the period of record, with an insignificant positive trend of increasing snowfall of 0.5 cm ± 13.1 cm per decade. Similar positive but insignificant trends for spring snowfall were also noted.

The authors also report the existence of corroborating data from other sources, noting that "annual stream flow and precipitation trends for the region again were insignificantly positive for the same period. Snow-water-equivalent comparisons, measured on 1 Apr since 1930 at 26 sites and since 1950 at 45, show similar small, mostly positive, and insignificant trends."

Given such findings Christy and Hnilo conclude "these results combined with published temperature time series, which also reveal no significant trends, form a consistent picture of no remarkable long-term changes in the snowfall of this area and elevation of the southern Sierra Nevada of California since the early 20th century." In contrast with model projections of the western USA becoming drier as a results of CO2-induced global warming, the supposedly unprecedented 20th century rise in air temperature has had no measurable effect on Sierra Nevada snowfall at Huntington Lake.

Archived 29 March 2011