Sierra Summit

Conversations and observations about California's mountains

August 3, 2008
Higher and Hotter - Climate Change in the Sierra Nevada
Climate change is here. It's happening now.

Time and again, that's what I heard while traveling more than 3,000 miles across the Sierra Nevada and northeast California this spring and summer.

In Quincy, Bishop, Truckee, El Portal and scores of other places, people told me their stories - about shorter winters, longer summers, drier lakes, earlier snowmelt, dying conifers, more destructive fires, deeper and drier wells, plants blooming earlier and a lot of other things.

Such accounts mesh with a flurry of recent scientific reports that suggest global warming is taking root in the Sierra and other high elevation landscapes across California and the West - and that the implications may be profound.

On this page, I will track this changing landscape, posting updates from the annals of science and dispatches from the field. Here, and in the paper, I will explore not only how global warming is changing the Sierra but what's being done to slow it down - or adapt to it. Like many people, I want to know what works - and what doesn't.

I want to hear from you, too. What are you seeing? What are you hearing and reading? How is climate change affecting you - and people you know? Do you have historical photoes, diaries or other information that reveal climate changes over time? Think of this Web page as an electronic climate change bulletin board for the Sierra Nevada, a place to check periodically for the latest news and to offer your own observations as well.

To contact me directly, send me an email at and let me know how to get back in touch with you. If you'd like to submit historical photos depicting terrain that has changed, send those to

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About Sierra Summit

The Author
Tom Knudson lives in the Sierra Nevada and travels widely throughout the range. His hobbies include fly-fishing, backpacking and cross-country skiing. He is the recipient of numerous journalistic awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes, one for a 1992 Sacramento Bee series "Sierra in Peril," a watershed work about environmental threats to the mountain range. E-mail Tom at

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