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Snowpack is shrinking across the Northern Hemisphere

An aerial view of skiers on a ribbon of snow surrounded by brown, snowless land.
Skiers descend a slope of artificial snow below Grubigstein mountain during unseasonably warm weather on January 16, 2023 near Ehrwald, Austria.  | Photo by Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

Snowpack is shrinking across the Northern Hemisphere thanks to climate change, and many communities could soon face a “snow-loss cliff,” according to the most comprehensive assessment yet.

The effects of climate change can vary dramatically from place to place, which is why it’s been difficult to suss out the bigger picture with snowpack until recently. Now we can see that many of the hardest hit places also happen to be those that depend on snowpack for their water. Other communities that have seen relatively little impact so far are on track to pass a temperature threshold that would suddenly speed up snow loss, new research published in the journal Nature shows.

“Where the majority of people live and where the majority of people…

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