Seeking climate clues in Washington’s snowpack

by Emily Howe, aquatic ecologist

I am on the side of the highway in the driving rain, flashers blinking and my collar tugged up to my ears.  Trucks full of wooden apple crates roar past in a spray of tire wash. My stash of 10-foot PVC pipes has shifted, and I need to cinch the straps before the whole pile sprawls across the road.

Technology meets tried-and-true tools to advance conservation science and gather key data. Photo by The Nature Conservancy.

Wrestling the load back into place, I muse that PVC pipes must be the backbone of field science. But ironically, these plastic tubes are essentially giant straws. Cities are banning straws, one after another, to protect aquatic and marine ecosystems. Here I am bringing PVC to a conservation research site.

But this isn’t a story about plastic in the water. This is about water itself.

You know what else sucks water like a straw? Trees. They are natural straws that pull water from the ground, draw life from it and transpire it to the atmosphere. We need our trees. They release water, but they also clean it, store it, and in some cases, even create it! But we also need to protect

Original Title: Seeking climate clues in Washington's snowpack
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