Utah Stream Flows Impacted by Climate Change

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - A new study by several researchers including those at The University of Utah shows the major impact climate change has on mountain streams. It highlights how a change in temperature can cause serous evaporation of water resources.

Dr. Paul Brooks who is a professor of Hydrology helped with the study. He notes that many Western states have relied on snowpack for their water supply. Infrastructure like reservoirs are set up to hold it. He said their study was about better anticipating what can happen depending on snow levels.

"Predictability is what we need to make sure we can maintain the supply of water resources we've come to count on," said Brooks.

That snowpack normally soaks into the ground and releases back into streams and rivers during late Summer and Fall. With diminishing snow levels and more rain those levels happen earlier in the summer which can cause lower flows during the year.

That also means stream warm up faster which is bad for fish. It also becomes easier for algae to grow which hurts water quality.

What shocked Brooks most about the study was the difference just four degrees Fahrenheit could make on the water supply.

"Even if we still had snow it resulted in a lot more of that water evaporating before it even got to a chance where we could harness it for use," said Brooks.

The study aims to help water managers and cities adjust to the changing water resources and find others ways to capture precipitation.

Even though this year has been average for snow. It's hard to tell what type of weather could happen in years to come. After droughts throughout the West over the last several years many are finding news ways to adjust.



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