Morning photo: Sunday set

Got color?

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FRISCO — After a snowy start to April, winter finally relaxed its grip late in the month, with warmer days and at least a handful of clear mornings and evenings. Nothing against plentiful snow — I love it — but after months of shooting gleaming white snowscapes, it’s nice to get some color back in the scene, and it feels good to hike around on bare ground. Plus, the first wildflowers are starting to show (pasque flowers along the Ptarmigan Trail), and even though the early displays are modest, all the winter moisture should translate into a brilliant display of blooms the next few months. Click on the photos to see them full size, and check our online gallery at Fine Art America for more Summit County nature and landscape photos. Continue reading

Mediterranean fossils offer new climate clues

Findings shed new light in links between temperatures, CO2 and glaciation

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How will Antarctic ice sheets and glaciers respond to global warming? bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The relationship between global temperatures and the massive glaciation of historic ice ages may be a bit more complex than previously believed.

By studying the chemical composition of Mediterranean Sea fossils as old as 5.3 million years, scientists found a new way to assess sea-level changes and deep-sea temperature variability over the past 5.3 million years. The findings will result in a better understanding of ice age climate, and could offer new insight into the relationship between carbon dioxide levels, global temperatures and sea levels. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Study shows continued threat to green sea turtles in Central America

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A green sea turtle cruises the sea bottom in this NOAA image.

Relentless fishing pressure pinches population

Staff Report

FRISCO — Endangered green sea turtles aren’t getting much of a break in Central America, where a 20-year assessment shows steeply declining catch rates in Nicaragua — as much as 56 percent in the past two decades, according to conservation scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Florida.

The researchers estimate that more than 170,000 green turtles were killed between 1991 and 2011, with catch rates peaking in 1997 and 2002 and declining steeply after 2008, likely resulting from over-fishing. The trend in catch rates shows a clear need for limits on this legal fishery, according to the report’s authors.

“The significant decrease in the catch rates of green turtles represents a concern for both conservationists and local, coastal communities who depend on this resource,” said Dr. Cynthia Lagueux, lead author of the study. “We hope this study serves as a foundation for implementing scientifically based limits on future green turtle take.” Continue reading

Western wildfires burning bigger and more often

Global warming seen as key factor in trend

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Study documents significant trend in size and frequency of western wildfires.

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Western wildfires: How much bigger will they get?

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The size and frequency of western wildfires have been increasing at a startling rate the past few decades, researchers said this week after scrutinizing satellite data to measure burned areas.

The number of wildfires larger than 1,000 acres increased by a rate of seven fires a year from 1984 to 2011 and the total areas burned grew by about 90,000 acres per year — an area the size of Las Vegas, according to the new study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal published by the American Geophysical Union.

“We looked at the probability that increases of this magnitude could be random, and in each case it was less than one percent,” said Philip Dennison, an associate professor of geography at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and lead author of the paper. Continue reading

Morning photo: Spring daze

Valley snow is melting fast

Twilight hike on Ptarmigan Mountain, Summit County, Colorado.

Twilight hike on Ptarmigan Mountain, Summit County, Colorado.

FRISCO — You know it was going to happen one of these days — even the biggest snow berms from the winter are melting down and hikers say that some local trails are already starting to dry out. That’s the case along the Ptarmigan Mountain Trail, where the first pasqueflowers of the season are blooming just in time for Easter. Continue reading

Environment: Activists ramp up campaign against seismic airguns

Oil-probing technology could harm marine mammals, affect fisheries

Oceana projection on National Postal Museum (Credit: Oceana/Melissa Forsyth)

Oceana projection on National Postal Museum (Credit: Oceana/Melissa Forsyth)

Staff Report

FRISCO — Tourism and fishing-dependent communities along the East Coast of the U.S. are banding together to voice concerns about seismic airgun testing. According to Oceana, an ocean conservation group, 110 local elected officials and 155 conservation and animal welfare organizations all say the use of airguns to conduct these seismic tests threatens fish populations and profitable fisheries.

Six coastal towns have also passed local resolutions opposing the use of airguns. (Cocoa Beach, FL, Carolina Beach, NC, Caswell Beach, NC, Nags Head, NC, Bradley Beach, NJ and Red Bank, NJ). The loud and constant undersea thumping may decrease the catch rates of certain fisheries, potentially threatening a billion-dollar industry that supports thousands of jobs.

At issue is the use of loud acoustic devices that help energy companies probe for oil beneath the seafloor. Federal officials recently adopted a final proposal that would allow the use of this controversial technology in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida. Continue reading

Morning photo: It’s snow love …

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Morning photo sponsored by the CRWCD. Click the banner for more info on the 2014 State of the River meetings.

It ain’t over until it’s over

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Skiing through a clearing April storm near Frisco, Colorado.

FRISCO — Sometimes I group photos geographically, or post a series of images from one shoot, but today’s set is all about diversity, in a photographic sense — color, texture, hue … we have such an incredible palette to choose from, especially with a digital darkroom. Visit our online gallery at Fine Art America for more Summit County landscape and nature images. Continue reading

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