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THE UNTOLD STORY OF SPENCERS CREEK SNOW MONITORING AND CLIMATE CHANGE

July 24 2023 - News Release News Editorial

Snowy Hydro’s remarkable contribution to science

THE UNTOLD STORY OF SPENCERS CREEK SNOW MONITORING AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Hidden in between Charlotte Pass and Perisher Valley in New South Wales, lies a small snow recording station called Spencers Creek, run by Snowy Hydro. Since 1954, it has quietly collected valuable data, becoming the backbone of scientific research by The Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, and several universities.

The significance of Spencers Creek data reaches beyond the research community, influencing decision making in alpine resorts through New South Wales and Victoria, as well as informing policies of state and federal governments.

If you have an interest in snow, you’ve likely benefited from the data collected at Spencers Creek.

Although Snowy Hydro collects these readings for “operational purposes”, their snow depth measure has become the gold standard used and reported online by many resorts, including Perisher.

Snow report for Perisher on July 7th, 2023. Perisher’s website says”Natural snow depth is measured at Spencers Creek, 1830m by Snowy Hydro Limited on an ad hoc basis when it is safe to do so.”

This data reveals the true state of our winters, offering insights into the impact of climate change on our beloved snowy mountains.

 

Data readings at Spencers Creek are decreasing

The frequency of data collection at Spencers Creek has decreased in recent years, as shown by the decline in Figure 1.

Data collected in 2022 was sparse in comparison to previous years, with only four records collected from 1st of May to 31st of July. This is a reduction of over 60% compared to the average of the previous decade (2012-2021).

Snowy Hydro explained their reduction in data collection in 2021 as a means to avoid sending staff to remote locations in poor weather conditions.

However, this poses a pressing challenge. Snowy Hydro’s data is the longest running and most consistent, and without it, tracking and comparing the impact of climate change on our winters becomes increasingly difficult.

Urgent action needed

We’re on a mission to raise awareness and protect the valuable data collected at Spencers Creek after being notified by Alex Parsons, backcountry guide and POW Alliance ambassador.

Alex shared her concern with POW.

“I see these changes daily when I explore the mountains as a backcountry guide, but the data is essential to record what’s really happening out there.”

“We need to ask: Snowy Hydro, can you please prioritise collecting snow depth data at Spencers Creek?”

Help save our climate data

You can take action right now by sending a quick email to the CEO of Snowy Hydro using the form on the link below, urging them to continue recording their valuable data on a weekly basis from the first snowfall throughout the season.

And to have an even greater impact, share this blog with a fellow winter lover, raising awareness about the crucial role of data collected at Spencers Creek. By spreading the word, we mobilise the community who will be most affected by the loss of this data.

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