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This year has seen the first strides toward a global understanding of the hydrology and hydrochemistry of alpine areas. Seasonally snow-covered areas of the Earth's mountain ranges are important components of the global hydrologic cycle, even though they cover a small portion of the Earth's surface area. For example, snow melt in the Sierra Nevada is the major source of the water supply for runoff and groundwater recharge for the agricultural community of the Central Valley of California. Furthermore, many alpine basins will be sensitive to changes in the amount and chemistry of precipitation because of their small groundwater reservoirs, predominance of crystalline rocks that weather slowly, thin acidic soils, large amount of precipitation, and low buffering ability.