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- Snow is a key source of water for ecosystems and people in the Northwest.
- Snow water equivalent (SWE) determines how much water the snowpack contains, helping water and resource managers plan for water use.
- Increased temperature due to climate change will likely decrease snowpack in the Northwest, which will have broad impacts on water resources.
Snowpack is one of the most important resources in the Northwest, both economically and ecologically. In the West, mountains act as natural reservoirs by collecting snow in the winter and releasing it in the spring as temperatures increase. Between 60 and 70% of water supplies come from snowmelt, with high mountain regions being on the high end of that range. Snow is a critical water resource in portions of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, supplying water to farms, forests, and communities. Knowing how much water will come from snow on an annual basis is important for both short- and long-term planning.