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Storms filled 37 percent of CA snow-water deficit
by Earth Science Communications
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Translate This Article
5 February 2017
On 5 February 2017 NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported:
The 'atmospheric river' weather patterns that pummeled California with storms from late December to late January may have recouped 37 percent of the state's five-year snow-water deficit, according to new University of Colorado Boulder-led research using NASA satellite data. Researchers at the university's Center for Water Earth Science and Technology (CWEST) estimate that two powerful recent storms deposited roughly 17.5-million acre feet (21.6 cubic kilometers) of water on California's Sierra Nevada range in January. Snowmelt from the range is a critical water source for the state's agriculture, hydropower generation and municipal water supplies.
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Noah Molotch, who led the new study, cautioned that there is still a long way to go before California makes up its snow-water deficit completely. Molotch is director of CWEST and a research scientist at JPL. '. . . . One snowy winter won't be able to entirely reverse [the depletion of groundwater reserves because of the long drought], but there is, at least, some cautious optimism,' he said.
The total deficit over the five-year period (2012-2016) of the drought is roughly 54 million acre feet (67 cubic kilometers). The recent storms appear to have reduced that total by roughly 37 percent in less than one month.
'. . . . The vast majority of the mountain precipitation has come as snow -- which is exactly the way we need this precipitation,' said Thomas Painter, a snow scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and principal investigator of NASA's Airborne Snow Observatory. 'As snow, it releases to reservoirs and ecosystems more gradually and efficiently over the summer months.'
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