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The Inter-Mountain West (IMW) of North America is a region that lies between the Rocky Mountains to the east and the Cascades and Sierra Nevada to the west (Fig. 1). The climate of the IMW is generally semi-arid but this varies by location and elevation. An estimated 50- 80% of the IMW’s streams and rivers are fed by mountain snowpack (Marks and Winstral 2001), while the majority of the streams and rivers flow into desert sinks or closed-basin lakes such as the Great Salt Lake (Fig. 1). These streams and rivers create some agriculturally productive areas in the otherwise dry basins and mountain valleys. In particular, the Colorado River supplies water to the population-booming southwestern states and cities. Climate in the Colorado River Basin has been a subject of intense research due to its projected drying trend (Barnett and Pierce 2008). Change in winter precipitation regime (i.e. ratio between rainfall and snowfall) is also a subject of interest not only because its role in water resource but also its impact on recreational (ski) industry in the IMW.
Modern Climatology, whole system, historical statistics, variability, atmosphere, prediction
Climate | Earth Sciences