Climate: New York flood risk higher than thought

Manhattan’s seawall could be breached every 4-5 years

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Local factors and global warming combined have increased the flooding risk in New York. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Parts of New York are even more susceptible to dangerous flooding than previously thought, researcher said this week, explaining that the chances of water overtopping the Manhattan seawall now at least 20 times greater than they were 170 years ago.

According to the research, maximum water levels in New York harbor during major storms have risen by nearly two and a half feet since the mid-1800s. Sea-level rise has raised water levels along New York harbor by nearly a foot and a half since the mid-19th century, and the research shows that the maximum height of the city’s “once-in-10-years” storm tide has grown additionally by almost a foot in that same period. Continue reading

Scientist find source of mysterious Southern Ocean sound

New data could help minke whale conservation efforts

A group of Antarctic minke whales. Photo courtesy Ari S. Friedlaender, Oregon State University

A group of Antarctic minke whales, which have been identified as the source of a mysterious sound in the Southern Ocean. Photo courtesy Ari S. Friedlaender, Oregon State University.

Staff Report

FRISCO — If you’ve ever heard mysterious sounds that you can’t identify, you’re not alone. For decades, researchers have tried to trace the source of a unique rhythmic sound in the remote Southern Ocean that’s often been recorded, but never definitively pinpointed — until now.

This week, scientists with NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center said the sound is generated by the Antarctic Minke whale, the smallest of the “great whales” or rorquals, a group that includes the blue whale, Bryde’s whale, and humpback, fin, and sei whales. Rorqual whales are relatively streamlined in appearance, have pointed heads and, with the exception of humpback whales, small pointed fins. Continue reading

Environment: Feds release final study on Denver Water’s proposed new transmountain water diversions

Massive study evaluates and discloses impacts of new Fraser River diversions, expanded Gross Reservoir

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Will Denver Water get permission to divert more water from the West Slope?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Not developing new water diversions from the Colorado River Basin to the Front Range would increase the chances of a major Denver Water system failure, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded in its final environmental impact study for the Moffat Tunnel Collection System expansion.

The federal agency, charged with evaluating and disclosing impacts of the proposal, claims that Denver Water customers could experience periodic raw water and treated water shortages in dry years, with Arvada, Westminster and the North Table Mountain Water and Sanitation District especially vulnerable to raw water shortages.

“Severe and more frequent mandatory watering restrictions, including surcharges, may result in a reduced quality of life and place financial burdens on customers. Though still infrequent, mandatory restrictions would reduce production, employment, and other business activity in the Denver Metropolitan area,” The Corps wrote in the executive summary of the massive study. Continue reading

Morning photo: Medley …

Summit vistas

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A short evening hike on the Ptarmigan Peak Trail, in Silverthorne, Colorado, led to this overlook, with late-evening light painting the rock outcrop and the sky over Guyot and Baldy.

FRISCO — In-between light has always been my favorite and right now, in late April, it’s easy to find because it happens at a convenient time of day. In the morning, I can roll out of bed and scoot down to the edge of the wetlands near our neighborhood to capture images like the sunrise scene below. And evening twilight is right at that perfect post-dinner moment, but not so late that the whole day feels like it’s over when it finally gets dark. So roll on, April, and let’s get to May and some spring wildflowers. Visit our online photo gallery at Fine Art America for more Summit County nature and landscape images. Continue reading

Global March temps 4th-warmest on record

Parts of Europe, central Asia were record warm

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Hot and cold in March 2014. Map courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The average global temperature in March 2014 soared to the fourth-highest reading on record, mainly due to warmer temperature readings over land surfaces, which averaged 2.39 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century norm, according to the monthly report from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

Climate analysts said it was the warmest March since 2010 — the last time that an El Niño cycle influenced global temperatures. The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces was 1.30 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term historic average. For the year to-date, the global temperature is running 1.08 degrees above average, making it the seventh-warmest January-March period on record. Continue reading

Climate: Is the jet stream getting curvier?

A warming Arctic is changing the configuration of the jet stream, which affects mid-latitude weather. GRAPHIC COURTESY NOAA.

A warming Arctic is changing the configuration of the jet stream, which affects mid-latitude weather. GRAPHIC COURTESY NOAA.

New study traces historic changes in North American weather patterns

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A new University of Utah-led study suggests that this past winter’s persistent weather pattern across North America is linked with changes in the jet stream that may become even more pronounced as the Earth’s climate warms.

“If this trend continues, it could contribute to more extreme winter weather events in North America, as experienced this year with warm conditions in California and Alaska and intrusion of cold Arctic air across the eastern USA,” said geochemist Gabe Bowen, senior author of the study. Continue reading

Where have all the blue-footed boobies gone?

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Galápagos Islands blue-footed boobie populations have dwindled by a third since the 1960s. Photo via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons license.

Scientists track decline of iconic Galápagos birds

Staff Report

FRISCO — Populations of blue-footed boobies, one of the Galápagos Islands iconic species, have dwindled by a third since the 1960s, mainly because the birds don’t seem to be finding the food they need to breed and raise chicks.

The population decline is so steep that the birds are in danger of dying out, according to a new study published in the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology. The researchers found that sardines have all but disappeared from the birds’ diet, said Wake Forest University biology professor Dave Anderson. Without that primary food source, adult birds are simply choosing not to breed, he said. Continue reading

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