Climate: West may be in permanent drought by 2060s

kj

Is western drought the new climate normal?

New study quantifies global warming effect on California drought

Staff Report

FRISCO — Researchers say there’s new evidence that global warming will push the western U.S. into the driest conditions in at least the past 1,000 years, as higher temperatures exacerbate drought condition in the region.

The new study by scientists with Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Cornell University focused on the current California drought, showing that warmer temps drive moisture from plants and soil into the air. Warmer temps likely worsened the California drought by 25 percent, the scientists concluded in their paper, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Continue reading

Climate: El Niño could extend Pacific Northwest drought

NOAA updates seasonal outlook; El Niño likely to persist into spring

sfv

Warmer than average sea surface temperatures prevail across most of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean, as El Niño continues to strengthen.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Federal weather experts today said they’re more sure than ever that a strong El Niño will persist through the fall and winter, but they are less certain about how the cyclical Pacific Ocean climate pattern will play out across the U.S. The Aug. 13 El Niño update and diagnostic discussion is online here — it says there’s a 90 percent chance El Niño will last through the winter and an 85 percent chance it will last into early spring 2016.

During an El Niño, sea surface temperatures are above average across the eastern and central equatorial Pacific, and this year’s event could be among the strongest on record dating back to 1950, said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. Continue reading

New study details global warming impact to forests

‘We expect to see widespread declines in forest productivity’

forest1

Red beetle-killed lodgepole pines in the White River National Forest near Frisco, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The vulnerability of the world’s forests to global warming has been widely underestimated, a group of scientists concluded after taking a hard look at all the scientific data on forest mortality.

“We expect to see widespread declines in forest productivity, changes in the species composition and dominance patterns of forest trees, a shift to smaller-sized trees, and reductions in forest extent in some regions,” said U.S. Geological Survey researcher Craig Allen, adding that, even forests in wetter parts of the world are going to be affected by rapidly warming global temperatures. Continue reading

Drought spurs emergency fishing ban in Olympic National Park

Stream temps reaching levels lethal to salmon

sdfg

Tough times for salmon in the Pacific Northwest. Photo via USGS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — With water temperatures approaching lethal levels for salmon, the National Park Service is enacted an emergency closure of recreational fishing on most rivers and streams in Olympic National Park.

The closure is aimed at protecting fish during the severe drought in the region. Current conditions have made Pacific salmon, steelhead and bulltrout exceptionally vulnerable because of low stream flows and high water temperatures, park service officials said. Continue reading

Climate: June 2015 the 2d-warmest on record

Western U.S. bakes under record heat

sdfg

Four states in the Far West reported record-warm January – June temperatures.

Staff Report

FRISCO — With an average temperature of 2.9 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, last month was the second-warmest June on record for the contiguous United States, ranking behind June 1933, according to the latest monthly update from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

The West was sweltering, as five states (California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah) set all-time June temperature records. Wyoming, Montana and Nevada reported June temps that were in the all-time top five, while Colorado and New Mexico’s June readings were in the top ten warmest on record. Continue reading

Wildfires burn record 1.8 million acres in Alaska

Nationally, fires have scorched more than 2.5 million acres

Spot fires show as small puffs of smoke ahead of the main fire front as the fire moves toward the New Town of the village of Nulato on June 22 Credit: Ben Pratt

Smoke from spot fires ahead of the main fire front as a fire in the Galena Zone moves toward New Town Nulato on June 22, Credit: Ben Pratt/Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

Staff Report

FRISCO — U.S. Wildfire activity has surged above the 10-year average in the past few weeks, primarily because of what will be a record-breaking fire season in Alaska.

After months of mostly above-average temperatures, Alaska’s vast forests and brushlands were primed, and the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center is reporting that more  600 fires have burned across more than 1.8 million acres in the state.

Fires have caused evacuations, highway closures, and rail and flight disruptions. More than 350 structures have been damaged, including about 70 homes.

Above-average temperatures and a longstanding drought in the western U.S. are big factors in the wildfires burning in parts of Washington, Oregon and California.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are currently 26 major fires burning in Alaska. Nationally, the NIFC is reporting that about 26,000 fires have burned across more than 2.5 million acres for the year to-date, the highest number since 2011, when fires had already scorched more than 4.8 million acres by this time of year.

May was a drought-buster for eastern Colorado

Wet summer ahead?

dsfg

May precipitation broke the all-time record for Colorado.

Every part of Colorado saw above normal precipitation in Many.

Every part of Colorado saw above normal precipitation in May.

Staff Report

FRISCO — May brought drought-busting precipitation to much of Colorado, state climate experts said last week during their monthly Water Availability Task Force meeting in Denver.

The beneficial moisture erased a long-running drought in southeastern Colorado and also helped boost the streamflow outlook in the Rio Grande Basin, where a meager winter snowpack had lowered expectations for summer runoff.

By contrast, the far western third of the state is still designated as experiencing abnormally dry conditions by the National Drought Monitor, which also shows a pocket of moderate drought across western Gunnison and much of Delta counties. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,838 other followers