Sierra Nevada Snowpack’s Predicted Decline – A Berkeley Laboratory Study

Photo: Jim Delso

When you hear that a friend is visiting the Sierra Nevada, you likely ask them what activities they plan on doing. Is it a summer trip when they will spend their days rafting on a rushing river, fishing the pristine lakes, or hiking to a magnificent waterfall? Or is it winter time when they will spend their days on the mountain, skiing, snowboarding, or sledding? The beauty of the Sierra extends past the physical mountains, rivers, and lakes to the memories you create. Whether you are conquering your first black diamond or floating down a river with your friends, the Sierra is an outdoor paradise. But what if that all changed?

In a recent study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, A low-to-no snow future and its impacts on water resources in the western United States, it was found that snowpacks, specifically in the Western U.S., will drastically decline or become non-existent by the end of the next century. The study predicts that the Sierra Nevada snowpack could decrease approximately 45% by 2050. So what does this mean for the Sierra? Will the ski resorts we know and love turn into a mountain bikers paradise all year long? 

Not only does the Sierra provide an endless supply of adventure, but it is also a life source for much of California. It contains 25% of California’s land, 60% of its developed water supply, 60% of its animal diversity, 50% of its forest carbon all while hosting over 50 million visitors to the area each year. No snowpack will change the mountain range forever — more fires, ground water changes, shifts in vegetation type, and impacts to recreation. With climate change in California, we have already experienced many of these challenges as this year marked another year of drought and raging wildfires including the Tamarack, Caldor, and Dixie. Although the data is showing the most drastic decline in the Sierra snowpack by the turn of the century, we need to take action now. At the Alliance, it is our mission to face these issues head on and with your help, we hope to be out on shredding on the slopes, for years to come. 

Please visit to support our mission to protect and preserve the Sierra today.

For more information and links to the complete study: 

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory News Article

Learn more about the study: SF Chronicle Article

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