Freshwater Runoff to drop 26% in Sierra Nevada by 2100

Freshwater Runoff to drop 26% in Sierra Nevada by 2100

Scientists at University of California, Irvine, have found that change in climate could affect water supply in California State by changing mountain vegetation. According to recent reports, even scientists don't know how fast this vegetation can reach normal level.

If climate models are to be believed, then temperatures in California's Sierra Nevada, a mountain range in the western United States, would increase about four degrees Celsius by 2100. More plants and trees would start growing with increase in temperatures, which would suck up additional water. The result is about 26% decrease in river flow.

A professor of Earth System Science and co-author of the study, Michael Goulden, said that researchers have no idea about the speed at which the vegetation is being lost, but that is probably the biggest warning of the study.

The researchers have collected the data by forming the correlations between climate and ET at different altitudes with the help of four atmospheric monitoring towers.

Goulden also said that analysis is worst-case scenario and it has no link with future forest management.

According to researchers, climate projections for 2085-2100 show to the extent of 4.1 degrees Celsius warming in California's Sierra Nevada. The rise in temperature would expand high rates of ET 700 meters upslope if vegetation continues to move up.

California's Kings River is located about 7,545 feet above cold limited zone. More than 750,000 people get water from Kings River. The river generates about $3 billion annual revenue from hydroelectric power sales. Added to that, it supplies water needed to water the state's Central Valley agricultural area.

According to the study, if the mountain range loses 700 meters of cold limited zone, then people that receive water from Kings River could lose about 26% of water, which could result in 28% increase in overall ET effects.

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