Sunday, March 18, 2012

Snow Job

There appears to be some contention about whether the snow pack in California is increasing, decreasing or wiggle waggling. Now Eli is a RTFR kind of bunny and when someone provides a reference tends to follow the tracks, and sometimes when there is no clue he follows the Rabett tracks using the dread google. Sometimes Eli learn something, as indeed was this case when upon googling Sierra snowpack a paper by Kapnick and Hall by popped up

To assess inter-annual variations in California snowpack evolution, a metric was developed for quantifying systematic changes in snow accumulation and melt timing. In particular, we focused on the timing of peak snow mass. We created a measure of the timing of peak snow mass relying on SWE [snow water equivalent- er] observations taken around the first of the month from February to May.

We used these monthly snapshots rather than daily SWE data because the daily data are only robustly available from 1980 to the present, too short a time series to calculate long-term trends in maximum SWE timing.

The peak snow mass timing is defined for any given year as the temporal centroid date, also known as the center of mass, of SWE values (SWE centroid date, or SCD) from approximately 4 February 1 to May 1 for stations with complete data over this four-month time period.
which, among other things, made the points that SWE on April 1 is an indicator of the water supply that will be available for the rest of the year
A study of the California Sierra snowpack has been conducted using snow station observations and reanalysis surface temperature data. Monthly snow water equivalent measurements were combined from two data sets to provide sufficient data from 1930 to 2008. The monthly snapshots are used to calculate peak snow mass timing for each snow season. Since 1930, there has been a trend toward earlier snow mass peak timing by 0.6 days per decade. The trend towards earlier timing also occurs at most individual stations. The majority of stations have experienced simultaneous reductions in April 1 snow water equivalent. Reductions in April 1 snow water equivalent may therefore be due to earlier snowmelt rather than reductions in total snowfall. Analysis of individual years and stations reveals that warm early spring temperatures are associated with earlier snow mass peak timing for all spatial and temporal scales included in the data set. The influence is particularly pronounced for low accumulation years indicating the importance of albedo feedback for the melting of shallow snow. Regional mean averaged March and April temperatures have increased at a rate of 0.1°C or 0.2°F per decade since 1948, and the robustness of the average early spring temperature influence on peak timing suggests the trend towards earlier peak timing is attributable to the temperature trend. Given scenarios of warming in California, we can expect to see acceleration in the peak timing trend; this will reduce the warm season storage capacity of the California snowpack.
emphasis added. What water folk like Brian care about is the amount of water available to carry CA through the summer and fall, until it starts to rain and snow again. The Sierra functions as a huge reservoir which stores water over the winter and releases it well into the late spring. As the water makes its way through the hydrological system in the spring and sumer when rainfall in CA is scarce, it provides water for the cities and farms. The later the SCD and the higher the SWE then, the greater the water supply. If the trend in SCD continues, at a minimum CA will have to invest heavily (wes are poor, taxes are high and government is evil) in expanding its reservoir system.


Hank Roberts said...

> expanding its reservoir system

"Why not think ahead and protect the aquifers instead?" Cassandra asked chirpily.

"Aww shuddup" explained the economy.

"... In regions where well-drained soils are dominated by irrigated cropland, there is a strong propensity toward the development of large areas with groundwater that exceeds the maximum contaminant level of 10 mg/L NO3-N. Most of these areas are west of the Missouri River where irrigation is a necessity...."
Vol. 22 No. 3, p. 392-402
Received: June 19, 1992

Hank Roberts said...

From the latter page:

"State Water Laws Do Not Reflect Accepted Science.
... conflicts between state law and scientific reality make regulating groundwater difficult and mean that litigation is often necessary to adjudicate groundwater rights issues. ..."

Re nitrates, the gummint wants to actually test for waste nitrate runoff on farms and regulate the pollution at the source. The farm industry (yes, it's big big industry) wants "privacy protection" for the poor widdle farmers and mere sampling with anonymity.

Because, well, it's a free economy, innit?

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to watch this:

through the year.

Celery Eater

Anonymous said...

Sorry above is a bad link... Must be late... lol I have no clue where that came from.

This is what I wanted to link to. My apologies...

btw The CA Department of Water Resources site is very well done imo.

Celery Eater

Martin Vermeer said...

> expanding its reservoir system.

Yep, as I said.

Which CE chose not to respond to. Wise choice

sarwar said...

nice work keep it up

Anonymous said...


FYI the snowpack is just fine. Well within normal levels. I might be a moron but you are stupid fin arrogant GD jerk.

Celery Eater

Mark said...

It matters not whether Martin is a "stupid fin arrogant GD jerk" or CE is a "moron". All that matters is where the evidence points, and the evidence indicates that the snowpack is not fine.

Martin Vermeer said...

Well CE that's a response of sorts... nice you liked what I said ;-)

Mark, lighten up... stop fighting when you've won

Steve Bloom said...

CE, lack of familiarity with the relevant stats has confused you. Late season storms will pump up those reservoir quick because the lower watersheds get rain, not snow. The snowpack itself? Not so hot, even now.

Big picture: The current series of storms is nice, but it's not going to make up for those 3 months of drought during what should have been the rainiest/snowiest part of the year. Should the present pattern persist well in April, a big if, we might get into "normal" water supply range, but that seems unlikely.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

"given scenarios of warming in California"

so all this is stating is that the snowpack will decrease if the models are correct.

Utahn said...

"btw my name calling is now turned off, I dare you to do the same.
Celery Eater"
18/3/12 10:58 AM

"I might be a moron but you are stupid fin arrogant GD jerk.
Celery Eater"
19/3/12 8:44 AM

Almost 24 hours! It's a good start!

Anonymous said...


It was off until Martin opened it up again. Fire with fire.

Steve Bloom said;

"CE, lack of familiarity with the relevant stats has confused you. Late season storms will pump up those reservoir quick because the lower watersheds get rain, not snow."

That is funny Steve as California's reservoirs have been running above average for more than a year (almost two). Perhaps if you were more familar with information accessible here:

You would know that.

Also, now why would Steve only want to talk about this year? Perhaps because last year was at record levels? In fact the past 12 years (I checked more boxes in the link provided lol) looks pretty average. Several years above normal, several years below, and several years on average.

And to your Straw Man about the current storms, I said nothing of the current storms and realize year to year data is highly variable. But to the point current storms have NOTHING to do with how high the Reservoirs are in California, again they have been that way for almost two years!

It is truly amazing watching "team" play, accept what their fellow teammates say without verifying the information.

Y'all just went to Celery School, class is now dismissed.

Celery Eater

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

@Celery Eater

you might want to change your name to rabbit eater.

Probably the greatest evidence of all time that global warming is a hoax was when they opened the windows

TIMOTHY WIRTH: We called the Weather Bureau and found out what historically was the hottest day of the summer. Well, it was June 6th or June 9th or whatever it was. So we scheduled the hearing that day, and bingo, it was the hottest day on record in Washington, or close to it.

DEBORAH AMOS: [on camera] Did you also alter the temperature in the hearing room that day?

TIMOTHY WIRTH: What we did is that we went in the night before and opened all the windows, I will admit, right, so that the air conditioning wasn’t working inside the room. And so when the- when the hearing occurred, there was not only bliss, which is television cameras and double figures, but it was really hot.[Shot of witnesses at hearing]

How do you explain this one away, oh wise Eli? Oh no, I don't think Jbowers knows about this, this could cause a rift!

Steve Bloom said...

Nice cloud o' ink, CE, apparently my reward for trying to be reasonably civil with you.

FYI I live in CA and pay very close attention to this stuff. Last year was indeed very wet, so we had relatively high reservoirs going into this year.

Re the current storms, note that we did a get a big spike in the reservoirs, per the page you linked. That's obvious to the casual observer. So what was your point again?

My point, as you seem to be trying hard to forget, was mainly to respond to this wholly wrong assertion made by you:

"FYI the snowpack is just fine. Well within normal levels."

So, bizarrely, I talked about the current year situation because, um, you did.

BTW, for the total water picture one must take into account more than just snowpack and reservoir levels, in particular soil moisture levels and (for SoCal) the state of the Colorado River supply.

Fun fact: CA would be in the fifth year of drought were it not for the precipitation from a single month, December 2010.

Sometimes, CE, it seems that you're more interested in snarky point-scoring than in learning new things. Just my impression, you'll understand. :)

Other fun fact: Celery has virtually no nutritional value.

Anonymous said...

"Re the current storms, note that we did a get a big spike in the reservoirs, per the page you linked. That's obvious to the casual observer. So what was your point again?"

Wrong. Go look at Feb 18th and compare to March 18th "big spike" is not the case the data says otherwise. You have to go back to the first months of 2010 to find the reservoir levels significantly different than they are today.

So now that the Sierra argument, snowpack > water content > reservoir levels is not working out for you (data is different than what you represent) now we have to carry those goalposts to Southern California and look at the Colorado river basin. Do you ever get tired?

I also live in California and watch these things closely as well. I have referenced everything I have said with links to various pages California's Department of Water Resources.

You come in with some hand waving and superior attitude "Nice cloud o' ink, CE, apparently my reward for trying to be reasonably civil with you." Oh how generous of you.

The Sierra snowpack is fine based upon its entire historical record. This year is low and so I understand how you want to limit discussion to this year.

With all your mis-information I will tend not to believe anything you say. Please link to some data so I may assess it myself, as your descriptions are most unreliable and not accurate.

Fun fact California is not in draught

Celery Eater

Steve Bloom said...

You're pathetic, CE.

You may wish to add the manner in which the reservoirs are managed to your pathetic trove of information. Note how a late surge in rainfall leads to having to dump much of it quickly to make room for the imminent melt. So all in all, the reservoirs (some of the coastal ones excepted, perhaps) are as topped off as they can be for this time of year. A month ago, there was still some slack.

Utahn said...

"It was off until Martin opened it up again. Fire with fire."

Ah, the "mommy, he started it!" argument - I like it!

So his link to a previous thread where he didn't call you any names was enough to break the "cease fire"?

Have some peanut butter on your celery, it has natural mellowing agents, and is quite delicious if you haven't tried it...

Anonymous said...


You may want to look at reservoir levels each month for the past two years. The only thing pathetic is your inability to deal with the data.

Why you keep focusing on the current storms is rather, well uninteresting.

My pathetic trove of information =

From you article:

"Plentiful snow and rain prompted the Department of Water Resources to predict that it can deliver 70% of the water requested by its water contractors this summer. The forecast was increased from 60% in January and 25% in November."

See Steve since the reservoirs were ALREADY at or above historical levels this latest series of storms has forced them to perform larger run-offs of the reservoirs than they have done in the PAST. And your point is what? My point is CA resrvoirs have been normal or above normal for nearly two years. Please put that in your pipe and smoke it.


I see you have nothing to contribute to the actual topic but keep pointing out the name calling. Are you going to make a point anytime soon?

Celery Eater

Utahn said...

"Are you going to make a point anytime soon?"

My point is already made: you can't get your facts straight and only see what you want to see.

And, for those who haven't tried peanut butter on celery, when they do try it, they will discover that this also was a very important point.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Celery Eater: "California is not in draught"

Well, good thing, too... It's much too large to just shut the window!

CE: Fun fact--it's drought, not draught.

Anonymous said...

Thank you a_ray

California is not in a drought.

That was easy, now do you have anything, anything at all of substance to contribute to the topic?

Celery Eater

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

No, CE, I'm quite content to sit here and watch you hang yourself with your own rope.

Got any popcorn?

Anonymous said...


I did not think you had anything to add, you never do.

Funny how the only rebuttals so far to all my referenced claims, was a bunch of hand waving and personal claims of this or that.

Celery Eater

Steve Bloom said...

Brian, Eli and John, gotta say that the blog is becoming a little tedious lately what with the increasing portion of Jay and CE. I realize I'm more guilty than most for rising to their bait, but even so the clutter does make it more difficult to carry on an intelligent discussion about e.g. the topic of this post, which I would have been otherwise interested in doing. What with the likelihood of disruption, not so much.

Anonymous said...

That is pretty funny Steve as this was my first post on this article:

It will be interesting to watch this:

through the year.

Celery Eater

And what was the first response? An attack. I probably would not have commented further on the topic, but for Martin's response and the others that followed. Think about that.

So I read more about the issue and
I kept referencing that site. All you referenced was your personal opinion and an USA Today article.

Perhaps you should look in the mirror to say at least see part of the problem.

Celery Eater

EliRabett said...

Yes, we may have to open the Rabett Hole again or establish a pen for Dr. J

Steve Bloom said...

Speed the day, Eli.