Brian Domonkos straps on a pair of cross-country skis and glides through the trees along Mosquito Creek west of Fairplay.
It’s May, but there’s still snow in Colorado’s mountains near the headwaters of the South Platte River.
Domonkos, the Colorado Snow Survey supervisor, gets to work measuring how much snowpack is left from the winter to runoff into streams, rivers and reservoirs this summer. These mountains trap snow in a natural reservoir. As it melts, it becomes the primary source of water for Colorado and much of the West.
Climate change is disrupting this delicate system in multiple ways. The overall trend shows less snowpack accumulation due to warmer temperatures. What does collect melts sooner and faster, which means less snow on the ground and a greater chance for wildfires.
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