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Sunshine Cafe Supper Club: Learn more about how global warming is affecting the Rocky Mountains of Colorado

ss2b&wflowers3Special Sept. 12 dinner at Sunshine Cafe supports local environmental journalism with a presentation on global warming in the Rockies

 

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By Bob Berwyn

 FRISCO — We are following up on our grassroots fundraising campaign with a Sept. 12 dinner event at the Sunshine Cafe (6 p.m., 250 Summit Place shopping center, Silverthorne, CO)  that you don’t want to miss. First of all, the Sunshine Cafe — under new ownership — rarely opens for dinner, so it’s a chance for you to sample the great cooking that makes this a longtime favorite eatery for locals and visitors.

Proceeds from the dinner and a silent auction will benefit Summit Voice and the Beacon Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger environmental journalism project, which takes an in-depth look at how global warming is affecting the Rocky Mountains. The suggested donation for tickets is $50 per person for the dinner with a cash bar for beverages.

You can reserve dinner tickets via PayPal, contact bberwyn@comcast.net or call (970) 331-5996.

We’re still in the middle of the reporting project but we’ll give a presentation covering alpine tundra research at Rocky Mountain National Park, and the growing impacts of Southwest dust storms that are tainting the high country snowpack. We also plan to have a special guest speaker talk about climate change and public lands.

We’ll also be asking what kind of local environmental stories you’d like to see covered right here in Summit County. If we reach our fundraising target from the dinner, we’ll dedicate a month to in-depth reporting right here at home.

Check out some of the early stories from the Climate Ranger project at their home on Beacon Reader.

Good environmental journalism isn’t free. I’ve dedicated years to tracking environmental issues in Summit County and the Rocky Mountains and with your support, I’ll continue to bring you new insights into important stories via Summit Voice and other platforms. Please consider buying tickets to our special dinner or just making a direct donation in support of unbiased, independent environmental journalism.

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Morning photo: Mountain glow

Peak light

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An eclipese-tinged glow over the Rockies, photographed from Loveland Pass, Colorado.

FRISCO — There are times when the light in the mountains totally blows my mind, and when it’s easy to understand why mountains have long been considered sacred, and even dwelling places of the gods. It seems, sometimes, that if one could only gaze upon the peaks long enough, all the mysteries of the universe would be revealed. So there are times that, after taking a few photos, I set down the camera, hoping to gain a little more insight into this great wonderful world of ours. Continue reading

Environment: New California fracking report leads to more questions than answers

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A fracking operation in Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Some conclusions flawed by lack of adequate data, environmental advocates say,

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The battle over fracking probably won’t die down until humankind slurps up the last of the planet’s fossil fuel resources, and a new report by a California agency probably will intensify the debate.

The short-term study shows that fracking could threaten California ground water and pose human health risks, but was characterized as incomplete by environmental groups, who said it’s based on just a few months of data with big information gaps resulting from lack of complete reporting by state regulators. Continue reading

Will global warming wipe out Devils Hole pupfish?

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Devils Hole pupfish — a poster child for climate extinction? Photo courtesy USFWS.

Rare fish species in steep decline as global, regional temperatures soar

Staff Report

FRISCO — Rare fish living in desert freshwater springs in Nevada may be adapted to warm weather, but they may not be able to survive long-term global warming, researchers said this week, outlining the threats facing endangered Devils Hole pupfish.

At times, the population of the fish has been as low as just 35 individuals, and the geothermal water on a small shelf near the surface of an isolated cavern in the Nevada desert where the pupfish live is heating up as a result of climate change and is likely to continue heating to dangerous levels.

From the 1970s through the mid-1990s, the population appeared stable, but 1997 marked the start of a long-term decline that is probably linked with global warming, according to scientists who closely watch the fish. The population dropped to an all-time low of just 65 fish in the fall of 2013, with a further decline expected this year that will push the species toward extinction. Continue reading

Climate: Coastal threats should be tackled now

Sea level is rising, and will continue to rise for centuries even if we cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Sea level is rising, and will continue to rise for centuries even if we cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Addressing non-climatic impacts will improve long-term resilience

Staff Report

FRISCO — From mountains, forests and rivers down to the seashore, a common theme among researchers is that, in many places, human impacts stemming from land use and development still outweigh the global warming signal.

That includes coastal regions, were there is an immediate need to tackle the threats from non-climatic changes, an international research team said this week after a detailed review of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments. Continue reading

Climate study explores link between El Niño, the polar vortex and extreme cold outbreaks in Europe

Cold snaps more likely during El Niño winters

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How does El Niño affect weather in Europe?

Staff Report

FRISCO —El Niños don’t just affect anchovy fishermen in Peru and the ski resorts of the Sierra Nevada. The somewhat cyclical variation in equatorial Pacific sea surface temps can shift weather patterns worldwide, including in Europe, which may be more susceptible to extreme cold outbreaks in El Niño years, according to a new study led by a University of Colorado, Boulder researcher.

Other research has hinted at the connection, but the new paper is the first to show that El Niños might be linked with Sudden Stratospheric Warming events, when temperatures high in the atmosphere change radically, affect the polar vortex, a belt of winds that form a boundary between the cold Arctic and the temperate mid-latitudes. Sudden Stratospheric Warming weakens those winds, often leading to outbreaks of bitter cold Arctic air across Europe and possibly the eastern U.S. Continue reading

Morning photo: Cloudplay IV

Seasonal shift

I could feel this rainbow before it appeared as an intense afternoon thunderstorm moved from west to east across Summit County. Since it was mid-afternoon, the sun was relatively high, making for a low-slung rainbow.

I could feel this rainbow before it appeared as an intense afternoon thunderstorm moved from west to east across Summit County. Since it was mid-afternoon, the sun was relatively high, making for a low-slung rainbow.

FRISCO — It’s not even September yet, but the skies over the Colorado high country have taken on a definite tinge of autumn, even bringing a few early dustings of snow, or a snow and hail mix to the highest peaks. I’m not going to post any snow shots yet; there’s plenty of time for that in the months ahead, but you should be able to feel the transitioning seasons in some of these late summer shots. It’s an awesome month for rainbows, as long as the monsoon moisture continues to stream into Colorado, so keep your camera handy and send us your best rainbow shot. We’ll post it in one of our photo essays. Follow our Instagram fee for daily updates, and visit our online gallery to buy fine art Colorado landscape prints and greeting cards. Continue reading

Climate: Greenhouse gas buildup ‘loads the dice’ for Southwest megadroughts

Odds of 30-year dry spells increase dramatically as global temps rise

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Green bars indicate wet periods, the larger the bar the more unusually wet. In a similar way, yellow indicates dry and droughty periods. The graph stretches from January 1895 on the left to last month on the right, showing how the cycle of droughts alternating with wet years has changed, with dry years becoming more prevalent.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Tree ring records clearly show that the southwestern U.S. experienced megadroughts long before the anthropogenic global warming era. One such decades-long dry spell may have been a factor in the collapse of the Anasazi civilization at Mesa Verde.

But the steady buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere is loading the dice in favor of another megadrought sooner, rather later, according to scientists with Cornell University, the University of Arizona and U.S. Geological Survey. The chances of a decade-long drought is now at least 50 percent, and there’s a 20 percent to 50 percent chance of a 30-year megadrought.

“For the southwestern U.S., I’m not optimistic about avoiding real megadroughts,” said Toby Ault, Cornell assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and lead author of the paper. “As we add greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – and we haven’t put the brakes on stopping this – we are weighting the dice for megadrought conditions.” Continue reading

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