Climate change brings more problems, as shrinking snowpacks means less water for 2 billion people that are depending on the cold precipitation for their main water source. It could have devastating effects in the following years. Water shortage is among the many concerns currently plaguing our population.
Global warming has heightened the average temperatures around the world. This is felt harsher in the Northern Hemisphere, where many of the mountain chains gather up snow on their higher peaks. The natural use of snowmelt aids huge populations of people around the world with their water supplies.
They are vital natural reservoirs both for humans, animals, and the general stability of the ecosystem. The process implies snow falling in the colder months, and starting to melt in the spring and summer. Those are times when humanity demands more water for both consumptions and crops, so nature provides it through the melting snow.
However, with the ever increasing temperatures, it seems their benefits might see to a rapid decline. That process is happening much faster, and the snow is melting ahead of time. In fact, scientists suggest that rain becomes a more frequent precipitation. While it would aid in the present, it does not provide supplies for the warmer months.
Researchers at the University of Columbia have estimated that 2 billion people depending on the snowmelt water supply in the Northern Hemisphere are at risk. They analyzed a number of 421 drainage basins, among which 97 of them present as crucial water supplies for 2 billion people. There are two thirds of chances that their most precious resource will see a rapid decline.
There are 32 basins which currently stand at the highest risk, around the United States, Mexico, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and northern Turkey. This is beyond California and the war-damaged regions in the Mid-East (Iraq and Syria), which will be the most affected by 2060.
According to Justin Mankin, who is lead author of the study, this means that all water managers worldwide should prepare for a crisis. They need to take into consideration a future where snowpacks are melting too quickly, and their vital supplies will be shortened. It will affect the population, the animals, and the ecosystem alike.
The natural cycles of snowmelt will be interrupted by the gradually increasing temperatures. What was once a normal process will see unfortunate shifts. And, a large part of us will feel the consequences, especially during the warmer months of the year.
Image source: noaa.gov