Changing Snowpack, Hazards, and Backcountry Safety

UC Berkeley Snow Lab (Credit: Robert Sanders)

Event Date

Tahoe Center For Environmental Sciences


Snow is an incredibly important resource. It supplies at least 30% of California's freshwater, has a significant role in ecosystem regulation and health, and is invaluable to outdoor recreation. Snowpack season is becoming shorter and snowfall is gradually being replaced with cold-season rain as air temperatures increase.  As a result, new hazards have developed in areas where seasonal snowpack is common in response to changes in snowfall and snowpack.

Andrew Schwartz is the lead scientist at the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab (CSSL) and has been researching winter weather, its trends, and its impacts for over a decade. Using historical records from the CSSL, some of which are the longest of their kind in the world, he will discuss snowpack trends occurring in the Sierra Nevada, how they are redefining our fire seasons and natural disasters, and their impacts on the recreation and safety of outdoor enthusiasts. Andrew will also discuss additional actions that can be taken to ensure safety in the backcountry and measures to curb the loss of snow.

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