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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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Global warming could reduce Sierra Nevada runoff by 25 percent

Increased plant growth projected to use more water

In the lengthening nights of October, the Snake River starts to freeze.

Global warming is likely to have a big impact on mountain runoff. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Forests and brush moving up mountainsides as the climate warms could take a big gulp from streams and rivers, potentially cutting runoff by as much as 25 percent by the end of the century. Warmer temperatures will accelerate plant growth, triggering more water absorption and evaporation, according to researchers with  UC Irvine and UC Merced.

“Scientists have recognized for a while that something like this was possible, but no one had been able to quantify whether it could be a big effect,” said UCI professor of Earth system science Michael L. Goulden. “It’s clear that this could be a big effect of climate warming and that water managers need to recognize and plan for the possibility of increased water losses from forest evaporation.”

According to the researchers, runoff from mountain ranges is vulnerable to temperature hikes that lengthen growing seasons and result in more vegetation growth at high elevations, according to the study, to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Continue reading

Are New Mexico forests holding steady in the face of climate change, drought and wildfires?

New inventory assesses state’s woodland resources
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STAFF REPORT

FRISCO — Mortality is increasing and growth is slowing down in New Mexico’s forest lands, according to a new forest inventory released in late August. The only species showing overall growth are ponderosa and piñon pines, as well as junipers, as insects, wildfires drought and disease take an increasing toll on the state’s woodlands.

Forests grow on about 25 million acres in New Mexico, with 44 percent on private lands and 31 percent on national forest lands. About 40 percent (10.8 million acres) of the forests are piñon-juniper woodlands, by far the state’s most extensive forest type. Gambel oak is the most abundant tree species by number of trees, and ponderosa pine is the most abundant by volume or biomass. Overall, researchers estimate there are more than 6 billion live trees growing in the state.

The inventory documented the drought-induced piñon pine die-off in the early 2000s, estimating that about 8 percent the species died, but noted that the mortality rate has tapered off.New Mexico’s aspen forests, covering about 380,000 acres, held steady in the past decade. Continue reading

Colorado farming, ranching water ‘in the crosshairs’ as big reservoirs dwindle

Water experts to discuss role of agriculture in Colorado River puzzle

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Can ag water save the Colorado River?

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new $11 million effort to keep water flowing in the Colorado River to Lake Powell could up the pressure on Colorado farmers and ranchers to sell or lease their water.

In fact, agriculture is in the crosshairs in Colorado, according to the Colorado River Water Conservation District, which represents western Colorado water interests. Low water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead — the key storage buckets on the Colorado — have prompted measures to put more water in the river.

The CRWCD’s annual water seminar (Sept. 19, Grand Junction) will focus on what that means for western Colorado, with panel discussions and presentations on ag efficiency, the worth of ag efficiency and how ag efficiency works with the chief goal of sustaining ag as a viable industry. Continue reading

Greenhouse gases from food production threaten climate targets

Taking a lunch break during a search for orchids in the Austrian countryside.

Taking a lunch break during a search for orchids in the Austrian countryside.

‘Agricultural practices are not necessarily at fault here – but our choice of food is’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Forget about greenhouse gas pollution from factories and transportation — by 2050 emissions of carbon dioxide and methane from food production alone could exceed targets set to prevent catastrophic global warming, University of Cambridge scientists warn in a new paper.

A major shift in food consumption norms has to be a big part of an overall plan to cut atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping air pollution, especially given the current trend toward meat-heavy Western diets, the authors wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change. Continue reading

Morning photo: Treeline!

‘Shroom hunting in Colorado

Evening vista in Mayflower Gulch, Summit County, Colorado.

Evening vista of the Tenmile Range, Summit County, Colorado.

FRISCO — Aug. 31 is a bit late for the peak of the mushroom season in Colorado, but after a stream of rainy days, we headed up high, near treeline, to search for fungi. In some of the moist, north-facing draws along the rough road into the Tenmile Range, we found a profusion of mushrooms, as many as 10 species in a square meter, including funky corals, puffballs and tasty wild agaricus, an edible variety closely related to grocery store mushrooms.

Seeing the mushrooms at peak season, bursting through a living tapestry of moss and lichen, makes me realize how big a part of the forest life force these humble fungi really are, locking carbon deep in the soil and helping the trees, old and young, absorb nutrients from the thin Rocky Mountain soil. Continue reading

Climate study shows how melting ice is raising sea level around Antarctica

‘The interaction between air, sea and ice in these seas is central to the stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and global sea levels’

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A new study tracks global warming impacts around Antarctica. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Global warming is upsetting the delicate balance between Antarctic ice, air and sea, University of Southampton scientists said this week, releasing results of a study showing a rapid rise in sea level around the frozen continent.

Based on an analysis of 19 years worth of satellite data, the researcher said sea level around the coast of Antarctica has climbed 2 centimeters more than the global average, driven almost entirely by an increase in freshwater, which is less dense than saltwater. That can cause localized increases in sea level, said Craig Rye, lead author of the paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience. Continue reading

Federal funds boost Native American climate resilience efforts

‘Impacts of climate change are increasingly evident for American Indian and Alaska Native communities and, in some cases, threaten the ability of tribal nations to carry on their cultural traditions and beliefs’

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Global warming poses a serious threat to Native American communities.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Climate change poses a serious threat not only to Native American natural resources, but to cultural traditions and spiritual beliefs, top Obama administration officials said last month, announcing $10 million in funding to boost adaptation and mitigation efforts on Native American lands.

The funding is part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which includes White House State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, aimed addressing the impacts of climate change already affecting tribal communities.

“From the Everglades to the Great Lakes to Alaska and everywhere in between, climate change is a leading threat to natural and cultural resources across America, and tribal communities are often the hardest hit by severe weather events such as droughts, floods and wildfires,” said Secretary Jewell, chair of the White House Council on Native American Affairs.

“Impacts of climate change are increasingly evident for American Indian and Alaska Native communities and, in some cases, threaten the ability of tribal nations to carry on their cultural traditions and beliefs,” said Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn. Continue reading

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