ESP 190 Tuolumne River KMZ (Steel, 2010)

Tuolumne River

Author: Zack Steel

An animation of snowmelt within the Tuolumne watershed under different climate warming scenarios.

As the regional climate of the Sierra Nevada warms in the coming decades, the timing of the spring snowmelt recession is expected to occur two to four weeks earlier. Such a shift will have profound effects on hydrographs as well as the abiotic and biotic systems which are effected by them. For this excersize I have used modeled snow accumulation data for the Tuolumne watershed under a baseline and three warming scenarios. The figure below illustrates the effect of changing snowmelt patterns on the Tuolumne River's hydrograph. Snow accumulation data was provided by the Center for Watershed Sciences and the embedded figure was adapted from Yarnell et al. 2010. The four temperature scenarios are colored as follows: baseline (0 degree change) - white, 2 degree warming - yellow, 4 degree warming - orange, 6 degree warming - red.

For example, select the 0 degree and 6 degree layer boxes in Google Earth and press play for time lapse animation. Zones that are white typically have some snow for that week of the water year; likewise, zones in red show anticipated snowpack under 6 degree warming scenarios.

TuolumneRiverSnowMeltAnimation_Steel_2010_ESP190.kmz9.23 MB