Would curbing desert dust help the Colorado River?

The dark dust thrown up by human activity in the deserts of the southwestern United States hastens the melting of Rocky Mountain snow and ultimately reduces the amount of water flowing into the upper Colorado River by around 5%, scientists reported Monday.

The lost water amounts to more than 250 billion gallons — enough to supply the Los Angeles region for 18 months, said study leader Thomas H. Painter, a snow hydrologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. “That’s a lot of water,” said Painter, whose study was published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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