Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:


A warning of earlier snowmelt

Mountain snowpack in western North America is decreasing, and these trends are often reported using amount of maximum annual snowpack. An alternative metric — integrated snowmelt during the accumulation season — finds snowmelt decreases are three times more widespread, suggesting even stronger snow decline.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Coconino National Forest, Arizona, USA, in February 2021.


  1. Li, D., Wrzesien, M. L., Durand, M., Adam, J. & Lettenmaier, D. P. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 6163–6172 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Mote, P. W., Li, S., Lettenmaier, D. P., Xiao, M. & Engel, R. npj Clim. Atmos. Sci. 1, 2 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Musselman, K. N., Addor, L., Vano, J. A. & Molotch, N. P. Nat. Clim. Change (2021).

  4. Siler, N., Proistosescu, C. & Po-Chedley, S. Geophys. Res. Lett. 46, 346–355 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Evan, A. & Eisenman, I. Nat. Clim. Change (2021).

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mu Xiao.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Xiao, M. A warning of earlier snowmelt. Nat. Clim. Chang. 11, 380–381 (2021).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing