Billy Barr has collected data about snow in the town of Gothic, Colorado, every day for 40 years. Nobody ever asked him to do so. He did it just because he wanted to. Now his data is invaluable to climate scientists.
Barr lives by himself in a remote cabin in a town always hit hard by winter. He records figures like temperature and height of snow in a notebook.
“The trend I see is that we’re getting permanent snow pack later, and we get to bare ground sooner. We’ll have years where there was a lot of snow on the ground, and then we lose snow sooner than years that had a lot less snow just because it’s a lot warmer now,” he says in The Snow Guardian, a short film made by Day’s Edge Productions.
In a typical winter, it’s normal to have four or five record-high temperatures. Last year, Barr recorded 36. Researchers at the Gothic-based Rocky Mountain Biological Lab stumbled upon Barr’s data and used it to find clear evidence of climate change.