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Arizona's winters expected to get wetter thanks to climate change, research shows

Monsoon storms may bring extreme rainfall to the Valley, but it does little to help keep water reservoirs filled compared to water from White Mountain snow.

PHOENIX — Monsoon marks when the Sonoran Desert turns from dry and dusty to wet and windy.

However, it's not the season that best helps replenish Phoenix's water supply, according to numerous researchers at a recent conference hosted by the Salt River Project (SRP).

Phoenix famously doesn't have white winters, but winter snows help increase the city's water supply much more than the rainy season's storms. The nearby and aptly-named White Mountains, where SRP's watersheds are located, get a large amount of snow during the winter, which ends up melting and flowing down towards the Valley.

Will this remain the case as human-caused climate change continues? Researchers think that changes in Arizona's climate may actually make the season wetter.

RELATED: Arizona doesn't just have to survive drought, but prepare for coming floods, SRP officials say

"The research shows a positive precipitation change in Arizona's future winters and negligible changes in spring, summer and fall," said Dr. Matei Georgescu, associate director of ASU's School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

It's not all good news, though. While Arizona's winters may see more extreme rain and snowfall, the state's dry periods are also expected to get worse.

"Our wettest years will be wetter, but our dry years are going to be bone-dry," Georgescu said.

The data line up with other reports from scientists across the world that show the link between weather and climate change will make extreme events more common and more intense.

RELATED: Climate change made summer drought 20 times more likely

See SRP's full water delivery system here:

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