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Study finds peculiar tie between warm climate, slow snowmelt

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Posted at 12:35 PM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-28 14:35:19-05

DENVER (AP) - Researchers say global warming could melt mountain snow more slowly, a peculiar finding that might be bad news for the American West.

Scientists have long known snow is starting to melt sooner as the climate warms. The research released Monday found the early snowmelt is slower than in summer, partly because the sun is weaker and nights are cooler in late winter and early spring.

The researchers say slower snowmelt could mean less water for humans. That's because snowmelt that lingers in the soil could be taken up by plants or evaporate instead of flowing into reservoirs.

Scientists also say the findings could help explain why computer models show snow-fed rivers are expected to run lower as the climate warms.

Their conclusions were published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

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