Harbinger of more & less to come

To the editor,

I enjoyed my sixth day of skiing recently at Purgatory. Despite the lack of natural snowfall, they have made enough man-made snow to create a fantastic skiing experience. Skiing is one of the main reasons I relocated to Durango. I cannot help but think if this might be the new normal and the implications that has for our community. The lack of natural snow has obvious implications for the recreational ski industry, but that missing snowpack is our water supply, too. It is time that as a community we recognize the role that climate change has in our missing snowpack and diligently act to reverse that.

In a recent article published in Inside Climate News, the author points out research done by University of Colorado hydrologist Keith Musselman. He has studied how sensitive mountain snowpack is to global warming. Analyzing extensive data from the western flank of the Sierra, he found that the snowpack shrinks by 10 percent for every 1 degree Celsius of warming. And winter rain storms will increase as global temperatures rise, melting snow that’s already piled up and raising flood risks.

Climate scientists say snow seasons like we are experiencing now will become more common in the next few decades. If snows don’t come, there won’t be much water to fill the reservoirs and provide drinking water and water to irrigate our farms. Wildfires might become more prev lent. Look at what happened in California last winter. They received huge amounts of precipitation, followed by more dry air that fueled extensive wild fires and left huge areas of dead hills that triggered mudslides.

If you are interested in learning how our community can pull together and reverse the dangers of climate change you are invited to attend the free film screening of “Saving Snow.” The Durango Chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby will be showing the film Mon., Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. at the Durango Public library.

– Louise van Vonno, Durango