MAY 19, 2017 9:07 AM PDT

This man spent years recording snowfall in his backyard, unknowingly providing 40 years of data for climate change


One man has become climate scientists' new best friend. Living in a small shack without electricity or running water in the middle of the forest in Gothic, Colorado for the last forty years, billy bar (no capital letters, please, he says) has had plenty of time to convene with nature. In fact, his boredom and desire to find some task to keep him busy is exactly what spurred him to start keeping a record of the snowfall in his wilderness backyard. And for the last forty years since he started with that record, he hasn't missed a single day.

He went about his observations only "for his own curiosity," he says, not for any particular scientific hypothesis. But when he finally did get the help of some climatologists to look at his record list, he realized that his data actually provided some very critical information. His observations show how snowfall and snow pack patterns have changed over the last almost half century.

"The trend I see is that we're getting a permanent snow pack later and we're getting to bare ground sooner. We'll have years where there was a lot of snow on the ground, and then we lost snow sooner than years when we had a lot less snow just because it's a lot warmer now," billy says in the National Geographic short film that features his story.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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