The Denver Post has an article up from Scott Willoughby that very well could be one of the best I’ve read from a corporate media source on the shifting environment and its numerous impacts. I wish more reports would be presented like this. Alas, there is little controversy and no infotainment involved.
The issue: increasing amounts of dust on the snow in the mountains and what it means. Scientific studies have been conducted (since 2003) on the presence of dust and the impacts on snowmelt. In short, snow with dust on it melts quicker than snow without dust on it. It has to do with albedo and energy absorption. In the interests of those of us who drink and use water in the summer (all of us) as well as those who use snow in the winter (recreationists), snow that melts sooner is generally viewed as a bad thing:
In 2005 and 2006, dust-covered snow melted up to 35 days earlier than a purely clean snowpack would have in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Last year — which included 12 measurable winter/spring dust storms — snow melted 48 days earlier in the same area.