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Snow study tied to global warming

Allen Best

SILVERTON – For such a tiny town, Silverton has a couple of organizations with big names and perhaps even bigger ambitions. Among these organizations is the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies.The center aims to analyze snow-system processes, because the snow from mountains is so important to people and their enterprises, and also because snow can also be so dangerous.Operating on a shoestring budget, the 2-year-old organization first got a U.S. Forest Service grant and now will get National Science Foundation money to do the field work for a study about the effects of desert dust deposits on the snowpack in the San Juan Mountains. A preliminary experiment last winter suggested that twice as much energy can be absorbed by a dust-contaminated snow surface as compared to a “clean” snow surface.The question is not merely academic. Many climate scientists expect the rising temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions to result in less precipitation in the American Southwest. Hence, as temperatures rise, more dust blows, and hence more snow melts. And because there is less snow, the dark earth sops up more heat from the sun, and the atmosphere gets even warmer.Jumbo Glacier Resort decision imminentINVERMERE, B.C. The key environmental agency in the provincial government has issued its report about the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort. The resort is projected to have 6,250 beds and would be located 30 miles west of Invermere.The report from the Environmental Assessment Office may not be released until after a decision is made by the provincial government cabinet on Sept. 17. A key opposition group, the Jumbo Creek Conservation Society, is having fits about the secrecy of the environmental review. “Today is a dark day for democracy in B.C.” said group representative Meredith Hamstead.Reflecting at last significant local opposition, the Invermere Valley Echo has been sharply critical of the project. It would use 5,500 hectares of land.


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