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Morning photo: Cloudplay IV

Seasonal shift

I could feel this rainbow before it appeared as an intense afternoon thunderstorm moved from west to east across Summit County. Since it was mid-afternoon, the sun was relatively high, making for a low-slung rainbow.

I could feel this rainbow before it appeared as an intense afternoon thunderstorm moved from west to east across Summit County. Since it was mid-afternoon, the sun was relatively high, making for a low-slung rainbow.

FRISCO — It’s not even September yet, but the skies over the Colorado high country have taken on a definite tinge of autumn, even bringing a few early dustings of snow, or a snow and hail mix to the highest peaks. I’m not going to post any snow shots yet; there’s plenty of time for that in the months ahead, but you should be able to feel the transitioning seasons in some of these late summer shots. It’s an awesome month for rainbows, as long as the monsoon moisture continues to stream into Colorado, so keep your camera handy and send us your best rainbow shot. We’ll post it in one of our photo essays. Follow our Instagram fee for daily updates, and visit our online gallery to buy fine art Colorado landscape prints and greeting cards. Continue reading

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Climate: Greenhouse gas buildup ‘loads the dice’ for Southwest megadroughts

Odds of 30-year dry spells increase dramatically as global temps rise

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Green bars indicate wet periods, the larger the bar the more unusually wet. In a similar way, yellow indicates dry and droughty periods. The graph stretches from January 1895 on the left to last month on the right, showing how the cycle of droughts alternating with wet years has changed, with dry years becoming more prevalent.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Tree ring records clearly show that the southwestern U.S. experienced megadroughts long before the anthropogenic global warming era. One such decades-long dry spell may have been a factor in the collapse of the Anasazi civilization at Mesa Verde.

But the steady buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere is loading the dice in favor of another megadrought sooner, rather later, according to scientists with Cornell University, the University of Arizona and U.S. Geological Survey. The chances of a decade-long drought is now at least 50 percent, and there’s a 20 percent to 50 percent chance of a 30-year megadrought.

“For the southwestern U.S., I’m not optimistic about avoiding real megadroughts,” said Toby Ault, Cornell assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and lead author of the paper. “As we add greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – and we haven’t put the brakes on stopping this – we are weighting the dice for megadrought conditions.” Continue reading

Environment: NOAA lists 20 coral species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act

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Widespread threats lead to “threatened” listing for 20 coral species under the Endangered Species Act. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Conservation and recovery plans will be crafted in partnership with coastal communities

Staff Report

FRISCO — Twenty types of coral in the Pacific and Caribbean will be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, federal officials announced this week, citing declines of up to 90 percent in some species. Continue reading

Climate: UK study eyes links between global warming, extreme flooding

An extratropical cyclone

An extratropical cyclone spread heavy rain across the UK in February 2014. Visit this NASA website for more.

More coastal damage likely as rising seas fuel storm surges

Staff Report

FRISCO —British scientists aren’t quite ready to say that last winter’s record flooding is linked with human-caused global warming, but in a recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, they warned that more coastal flooding is likely as sea level rises. Continue reading

Climate: Rethinking the Arctic carbon cycle

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Permafrost processes will play a big role in Earth’s climate for decades to comes.

New findings critical to climate calculations

Staff Report

FRISCO — Sunlight is the key factor in the process of converting Arctic permafrost carbon into atmospheric carbon dioxide, scientists concluded in a new study that could dramatically change the scientific understanding of the planet’s carbon cycle and the consequences of a permafrost meltdown.

The finding is particularly important because climate change could affect when and how permafrost is thawed, which begins the process of converting the organic carbon into CO2. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and published in the journal Science. Continue reading

Climate: What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic

The Fram Strait is a key link in the global ocean circulation system, as the passage for most of the Arctic sea ice exiting the region.

The Fram Strait is a key link in the global ocean circulation system, as the passage for most of the Arctic sea ice exiting the region.

Detailed ocean sediment layers paint clear picture of link between Arctic sea ice movement and ocean currents

Staff Report

FRISCO — An extraordinarily clear deposit of layered seafloor sediments has helped researchers explain the connection between Arctic sea ice movement and the movement of key ocean currents that redistribute warm water across the northern hemisphere.

Specifically, the new study by scientists with the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany looked at the movement of sea ice through the Fram Strait, between Greenland Svalbard, finding that, when massive quantities of Arctic ice melt and move south through the strait, the Gulf Stream slows, cooling the climate in Europe. Continue reading

Global warming: Heat trapped by greenhouse gases going deep into the Atlantic Ocean

Natural ocean cycles still big factor in pace of global warming

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July 2014 was one of the hottest months ever for Earth.

STAFF REPORT

FRISCO —Ancient currents that circulate the sun’s energy  deep into the Atlantic Ocean may be swallowing up some of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases. In the past decade, the current has intensified, drawing surface heat as deep as mile beneath the surface of the sea, scientists said after analyzing data from a network of ocean buoys.

The new findings may help explain why the pace of warming has slowed, and suggest that, when the current reverts to weaker phase, surface temperatures could spike upward once again.

The study, led by University of Washington scientists and published Aug. 22 in the journal Science, shows that the heat absent from the surface is plunging deep in the north and south Atlantic Ocean, and is part of a naturally occurring cycle. Continue reading

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