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Morning photo: Autumn!

So turns the celestial wheel

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Balanced perfectly, picking out bugs and sipping raindrops – a perfect way to welcome fall!

FRISCO — It’s been feeling like fall for several weeks in Summit County, with a few dustings of snow already on the high peaks and the annual procession of colors in local forests. But today is the real deal, folks. The autumnal equinox marks the first “official” day of fall and it means soon we’ll be enjoying crisp days, frost on the ground, and, hopefully, snow. On this rainy morning, a flock of small birds decided to hang out in the aspens around our house, busily hopping amongst the branches, finding food and water. It’s pretty amazing how just a small clump of three or four trees can feel like a big forest ecosystem when you look close up. Continue reading

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Global warming triggers surge in tree growth

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Global warming speeds tree growth. bberwyn photo.

Some species growing up 70 percent faster than 50 years ago

Staff Report

FRISCO — Some trees are growing up to 70 percent faster than just a half century ago, as global warming supercharges their metabolism, German researchers report in a new study published in Nature Communications.

Three decades ago, forest dieback was a hot topic, with the very survival of large forest ecosystems seemingly in doubt. But instead of a collapse, the latest studies indicate that forests have actually been growing at a faster rate. The new data from the Technische Universität München comes from forest plots that have been closely monitored since 1870. The forested areas are also representative of the typical climate and environmental conditions found in Central Europe. Continue reading

Is Austria a climate change hotspot?

Alpine country warming faster than global average

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A map showing the changing climate suitability  for different varieties of grapes suggests how the country’s climate is going to warm in coming decades.

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Austria’s glaciers are dwindling fast. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Austria is one of Europe’s climate change hotspots, scientists said last week as they released a comprehensive climate assessment showing that temperatures in the alpine country are climbing much faster than the global average.

“Already by now, Austria has warmed by 2 degrees Celsius in contrast to the rest of the world, with 0.85 degrees Celsius,” said project leader Nebojsa Nakicenovic, deputy director of the Vienna-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

Not surprisingly, the warming has also lead to a big jump in the average temperatures of Austria’s lakes and rivers, which since the 1980s, warmed by 1.5 degrees in summer and 0.7 degrees Celsius in winter, according to the assessment. Continue reading

Climate: August global temp sets new record

2014 on track to be one of the warmest years ever

August 2014 global warming map

August 2014 was record warm.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Planet Earth was record warm in August 2014, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists said Thursday, explaining that warm oceans continue to drive temperatures around the world to the highest levels seen since observations started more than 100 years ago. Continue reading

Morning photo: Sweet September!

Transformation

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Aspen tapestry.

FRISCO — As if knowing that there are a couple of drab months ahead, Colorado’s aspen trees burst into full color this week in a magical transformation that never fails to amaze. In some cases, entire hillsides change over in just a day or two; in other areas, the shift takes a little longer, but the end result is the same. And with relatively calm and sunny weather forecast for the next few days, the show should continue, at least until a big windstorm or the first real snowfall of autumn (at valley elevations) starts to sweep the leaves off the trees. Continue reading

Climate: Ocean acidification may be stunting coral growth

Mapping coral diseases is helping researchers determine the cause. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Coral growth is slowing dramatically along parts of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Will the world’s coral reefs simply dissolve as oceans become more acidic?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists monitoring the Great Barrier Reef said they’ve tracked a “perilous” 40 percent slowdown in coral growth rates since the 1970s.

The trend may be linked with increasing ocean acidification, according to the new study led  by researchers with the Carnegie Institution for Science.

The researchers compared current measurements of the growth rate of a section of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef with similar measurements taken more than 30 years ago. Continue reading

Thanks for supporting independent journalism!

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Enjoying dinner and supporting independent journalism at the Sunshine Cafe in Dillon, Colorado.

I’ll be discussing global warming in the Rocky Mountains live on the KGNU program, “A Public Affair” Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 8:30 a.m. You can listen streaming on the web by going to www.kgnu.org and clicking on the “Tune In Online” button (left sidebar)

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Ever since I waded knee-deep into the mucky water of Cucumber Gulch 15 years ago to write about vanishing boreal toads, I had this crazy idea that good environmental journalism — and good journalism in general — should be a core community value. The feedback I got on countless stories about critters, forests, water, snow and ski areas — especially ski area expansions — over the years helped reinforce that feeling.

I’ve always known that Summit County readers are smart, engaged and interested in what happens in the world around them. That enthusiasm manifested last Friday evening at the Sunshine Cafe, where about 25 people enjoyed a fabulous menu, a slide show about the Climate Ranger environmental reporting project and a silent auction. The dinner was an incredibly generous gift from cafe owners Mike and Tenley Spry and their gracious and welcoming staff.

We brainstormed about local environment stories, and as always, water is always a key topic — not surprisingly, since a new state report released in August projects that global warming will cut river flows in our state in a big way by 2050, and the impacts by the end of the century could be overwhelming if greenhouse gas emissions continue apace.

We’ll devote some of the money raised at the dinner to writing a couple of in-depth local natural resource stories, and I look forward to hearing more from readers about what you’d like to see covered. With sustainable funding, I can deliver solid and truly newsworthy environmental stories from the local area, but I can’t do it without your support and I can’t do it for free — this is not a hobby.

Doing good journalism takes resources and time, and I’ve already invested more than 15 years in learning about public land and water policy, forest health, climate change, endangered species and other topics I write about.

You can be a grassroots supporter of independent journalism by making a contribution to Summit Voice:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

If you’d like to become a business supporter, have a look at the link sponsorship ads in the sidebar. I would love to work with you and feature you as an ongoing supporter of independent reporting. Please contact me at bberwyn@comcast.net.

If you would specifically like to support the Climate Ranger project, reporting on global warming in the Rocky Mountains, please visit our Beacon Reader page, where your contribution will also give you access to a wealth of diverse independent reporting from around the world.

 

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