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Less Snowpack

Mountainside with sparse snowSnowpack refers to the total amount of snow and ice on the ground. In high mountain ranges and other cold places, snowpack builds up in the winter and melts in the spring and summer. As the world gets warmer, some places will get more rain instead of snow, so the snowpack won't be as deep. Plus, when the air is warmer, snow melts faster.

What's happening now?

Many places have less snowpack than they used to, and this snowpack is melting earlier. For example, the map on the right shows that in many parts of North America, Europe, and Asia, snow doesn't stay on the ground in the spring as long as it used to.

What will happen in the future?

As temperatures keep getting warmer, snowpack is expected to continue to shrink in most of North America and around the world.

Why does it matter?

When snowpack melts in spring and summer, it provides fresh water for rivers and streams, and it fills reservoirs that supply drinking water to cities and towns. Snowpack is also important for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding.

Check out the major effects of less snowpack on people and the environment:

Learn more about changes in snowpack by going on an expedition to the European Alps!

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