Snowpack is the snow on the ground of the mountains.
This snow is unique as it persists till the summer season.
Most parts of the world receive fresh water from the snowpack in the mountains.
Water comes to the rivers from the snowpack as the temperature increases in the mountains in summer.
You can learn about the water and mountains relationship to understand the water cycle on our planet.
What Effect Do Wind and Water Have on Mountains?
Wind and water can affect the mountains in similar ways.
Mountains can also affect the wind.
Wind can carry moisture above the hills.
The wind carries this moisture from nearby water sources.
Sea can also be a water source for it.
The moisture in the wind helps in the formation of clouds.
Clouds will produce rain in the lower parts of the mountains.
Cloud will give snow on the top of the mountains.
Snow can accumulate on the top of the mountains in the winter season.
It melts in the summer season to give water.
Mountain surfaces can absorb more water in the summer season.
Water can form channels inside the mountains.
You see the biodiversity of the hills due to the water.
Erosion is the most prominent effect of ice in the mountains.
Water can also cause erosion directly.
It can break rocks in its way to make smaller pieces.
Water can also contribute to land sliding and flash floods in the mountains.
Water forms small channels at the start.
These channels can combine to make streams.
Streams come together to make larger water bodies known as rivers.
Why Are Mountains Known as Natural Water Towers?
Mountains are also known as water towers because they can store water in snowpack form.
These snowpacks release water slowly to fill the water in rivers and lakes.
Humans can store this water by making dams or end up in the oceans.
More than fifty percent of the earth’s freshwater comes from the mountains.
There are some underground water layers.
These layers are known as aquifers.
Most plants get water from the aquifers.
Mountain water refills these aquifers also.
The water reaches these aquifers through direct absorption in the ground and water streams.
Most of the earth’s population depends on mountain water for their domestic and industrial needs.
Every year these water towers fill with water through snowfall.
The water level goes down in the mountains in the summertime when the ice melts to form water.
How Do the Snowpack and Snowmelt Affect Each Other?
Most people think that they know the relationship between snowpack and snowmelt.
It is more complex than you think because snow forms the snowpack structures in the winter season at the top of the mountains.
More snow can come on top of the already existing snowpack to make it thicker.
Snow and water exist in equilibrium.
A part of the snowpack can melt during the summer season.
You have to check the rate of snowpack formation in the winter and melting in the summer to estimate the growth or reduction of the snowpack.
Many factors can affect the rate of snowpack formation.
Moisture content, air temperature, storm frequency, and length of the winter season can affect the snowpack formation.
The height of mountains and location can also affect the relationship between snowpack and snowmelt.
The moisture level of the soil can also affect the rate of snowmelt.
Soil absorbs water quickly when soil is dry.
Snow texture and snowflake density can also affect the rate of snowmelt.
It takes more time to melt the snowpack with a higher ice density.
Snowpack becomes dense when more snow falls on top of the existing snowpack layer.
Western US Climate Effects on Water, Snowpacks, and Mountains
The places that are far from the large water bodies are usually dry.
You can look at the places that do not have rivers nearby or a sea.
These areas also receive less rain.
The western US is one of these areas.
The Western US depends on mountain water more than other areas due to less rainfall and dry weather.
Many authors explain the conditions of these areas.
Mountains and Lowlands is a famous book about the dryness of these areas.
The author writes that Mountains are like islands of moisture in these areas.
Many think about how people grow crops and develop lands in the western US.
Everyone believes that it was impossible without the water and mountains.
The Mountain snowpack gives water in the dry season and allows the ecosystem to thrive.
Most of the infrastructure depends in this area depends on water transportation.
Owners of the water transportation companies are part of the legislation process in these areas as they know the importance of water transportation.
All the urban planning projects need advice from the water transportation companies to ensure all the areas receive adequate water.
How Is Climate Change Threatening Mountain Snowpacks?
Climate change is one of the biggest threats to the water and mountains because the rising temperature can affect the melting rate of the snowpack.
When the earth’s atmosphere retains more heat due to the high concentration of greenhouse gases, mountain snowpack suffer in many ways.
Water can turn into a gaseous form from the solid state when there is more heat in the environment.
This process is known as sublimation.
Climate change is increasing the rate of sublimation.
This process will reduce the water supply in summer.
The mountain’s snowpacks are also shrinking due to this effect.
The second reason is known as snow drought.
Snow does not form at the top of the hills due to the high heat retention in the atmosphere.
It rains instead of snowing.
It causes floods in the valleys as snowpacks do not store the rain.
You will see floods in the winter season and droughts in spring.
It is due to the unavailability of water in the snowpack.
Most of them lose water during rains in the winter.
Snowpacks are also shrinking due to climate change.
Montana’s National Park glaciers are affected by climate change.
These glaciers are losing mass fast.
Most experts estimate that these glaciers will lose all mass in the 21st century.
The Rocky Mountain Snowpack and the Colorado River
Most experts studying the Rocky Mountain Snowpacks believe that we will see less water in the rivers if we do nothing about climate change.
The water of the Colorado River starts its journey from the Rocky Mountains.
The snowpacks of these mountains melt to give water to the Colorado River.
This river is significant for millions of people as it supplies water to seven states of the United States.
The water also passes from Mexico.
Colorado River is responsible for irrigating more than five million acres of land.
Most people want the Colorado River to have more water due to water scarcity in the West of the United States.
All the cattle and agricultural lands of the West areas of the United States depend on this river.
Arizona and California have almond fields.
These fields will end if there is insufficient water supply in the Colorado River.
There is a court case also that deals with the oversupply of water in some regions of different states.
Arizona and California have a water dispute in court.
The situation is worsening due to the reduction in the water supply.
High temperature also evaporates the water faster from the Colorado River.
It can reduce the water supply to the different areas of the United States.
The Sierra Nevada Mountain Snowpack and California Water
Most people think that droughts are things of the past as we will not suffer due to droughts in the modern age.
It is not true as California faced one of the biggest droughts.
The drought started in 2011 and continued till 2017.
California saw many droughts in the past due to different reasons.
This drought is due to climate change as precipitation patterns change.
California saw a record increase in temperature in 2014 as it was the highest in the state’s history.
Mountains got less snowfall due to more rains in the mountains.
It leads to further reduction of water during the dry seasons.
After seeing droughts, people are more aware of the benefits of the snowcaps on the mountains.
More than three fourth of the West water supply comes from the snowpack.
People are also concerned about wildfires.
As the weather gets warmer, we see more forest fires.
The fires are worse for the snowpack.
Temperature can increase faster when these fires release heat and greenhouse gases.
Facts about Mountains
- More than twenty-four percent of the earth’s surface is covered with mountains.
- Many countries depend on mountain tourism to run their economy.
- The European Alps and Karakoram Mountains ecosystems were most threatened, according to reports of 2002.
- Most of the world’s population depends on mountain water to get water for drinking and growing food. It is also crucial for industrial applications.
- As mountains compose more area of the land, more than six hundred million people live in the mountains.
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Last Updated on April 15, 2023 by Roger