Cryosphere

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Sierra Snowpack Levels Below Normal

3151697945_495462fcb0_m.jpgYes, heavy snow closed Interstate 80 for several hours on Christmas, and true, four feet of snow fell on North Lake Tahoe in the days since then. But this season’s first snow survey reveals that California still has far to go to make up for two years of drought.  Teams from the Department of Water Resources (DWR) found that statewide the water content of the Sierra snowpack is still only 3/4 of where it should be this time of year.

Conducted today by teams across the state, the survey revealed snow water levels at 54% of normal for the northern Sierra, 76% for the central Sierra, and 99% for the southern Sierra.

Today’s numbers are an improvement over this time last year, when the water content for snow in the Sierra statewide was just 60% of normal, but they are not high enough, say DWR officials.

After two years of drought and last year’s driest spring on record, reservoirs across the state are far below normal levels. Lake Oroville, which we wrote about in the fall, contains less than half the amount of water that’s normal for this date.

The Sierra is going to have to see a lot more snow this winter if Californians want to avoid water restrictions and another big fire season come next summer.

Craig Miller reported on the snow survey on this morning’s broadcast of The California Report.

Use the player below to hear more about the current state of California’s water supply from Department of Water Resources Senior Meterologist Elissa Lynn.

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Climate Coverage: From Drywall to Rubber Ducks

You just never know where the next climate story will come from.

This week on KQED’s Quest Radio, Marjorie Sun reports on how some of the most common building materials are among the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Manufacturing your most basic buttcrack essentials like drywall, steel and cement requires vast amounts of energy. Now, several Silicon Valley start-ups are looking for cleaner solutions and some of their efforts are drawing major venture capital.

Then from the “concrete” to the…well, how would you describe this?  I’m not sure but it’s one of my favorite climate experiments of the year: NASA Deploys Rubber Ducks for Cryosphere Clues. Scientists from California’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena are behind this BBC story that probably should’ve been posted on April 1st.

We’re all pulling for these rubberized cryonauts, hoping they don’t end up in an endless swirl as part of the giant Pacific plastic trash vortex that David Gorn reported on in August.