This week the U.S. Global Change Research Program released the National Climate Assessment, detailing climate change impacts and addressing national and regional responses.
The Salt Lake Tribune failed to adequately cover the critical climate change impacts that are currently occurring throughout Utah and that will continue and worsen through the coming decades. The report highlights key sectors of Utah’s economy enduring impacts including water resources, agriculture, and tourism and recreation.
Utah’s primary source of water is our mountain snowpack. The report projects the latter third of the 21st century will have 34 percent less snow water equivalent (mountain snowpack) in Utah than the end of the 20th century. Agricultural regions will also face warmer temperatures of 4.5 to 8.5 degrees F, depending on our emissions of greenhouse gases. Warmer temperatures cause more evaporation and require the use of more water to grow the same crops they grown now.
Reduced snowpack will also have distinct impacts on our Utah ski industry which will have fewer days with The Greatest Snow on Earth® as well as river recreation which will suffer from reduced and earlier season runoff.
Utah must start thinking forward and addressing these changes, and our contribution to them.
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