Snow is a life force in Yosemite, providing 90 percent of water in the park. With snow levels in the park decreasing, scientists are seeking ways to study how snow and snowmelt affect water availability, soil conditions, wildfires and more. Results from snow-focused research help inform decisions about managing and protecting natural resources and sensitive species, such as sequoias and rare amphibians.

This grant funded continued research on the current and future state of Yosemite’s snowpack, and on the related hydrological balance in the park’s forests and groves. Scientists developed a digital snowpack model to help them study how variations in precipitation and warming temperatures affect water resources in the park. They also worked to expand and improve plots used to monitor snow levels and soil moisture at various locations, which will support future efforts to document precipitation-related conditions, study the park’s water cycle, and evaluate forest health.

Your contributions helped fund state-of-the-art research to understand and protect precious natural resources. Thank you for supporting your park!

Completed in partnership with Yosemite National Park and University of California, Merced.


Jim Roche

Park Hydrologist

Project Notes

This project develops a tool for estimating snow depth across Yosemite that will help anticipate yearly water supply, forest drought stress and wildfire potential. It will help inform the visitor regarding trail access and visit planning.