Posted on June 12, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Tracking calcium deposits shows big increase in dust deposition in the past couple of decades
Desert dust taints the snow at Loveland Pass, Colorado, speeding snowmelt and sometimes contributing to avalanche hazards. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Significant dust storms the past few years have had a big impact on the timing of snowmelt in the Colorado Rockies, but scientists haven’t been able to say for certain if those events are becoming more frequent.
Now, a new study from the University of Colorado Boulder shows that the amount of dust deposition has increased, at least during the 17-year span covered by the researchers, who tracked calcium deposits to reach their conclusions. Calcium dissolved in precipitation has long been measured by the National Atmospheric Deposition Program as a way assess acid rain.
The scientists reviewed calcium deposition data from 175 NADP sites across the United States between 1994 and 2010, measuring increases in calcium deposition increased at 116 locations. The sites with the greatest increases were clustered in the Northwest, the Midwest and the Intermountain West, with Colorado, Wyoming and Utah seeing especially large increases. (more…)
Filed under: air quality, climate and weather, Colorado, Environment | Tagged: climate, Colorado, dust on snow, dust storms, Environment, Intermountain West, University of Colorado Boulder | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 9, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Research suggests far-reaching link between industrial emissions and climate
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A decades-long drought in central Africa may have been caused by air pollution from industrial sources in the northern hemisphere. The drought peaked in the mid-1980s, as Lake Chad nearly dried up and researchers initially pointed to over-grazing and poor agricultural practices as the main cause.
But new research from the University of Washington suggests that aerosols emanating from coal-burning factories in the United States and Europe during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s cooled the entire Northern Hemisphere, shifting tropical rain bands south of their average position. (more…)
Filed under: air quality, climate and weather, Drought, Environment | Tagged: air pollution, climate, drought, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Lake Chad, Sahel, subtropical rainbands | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 28, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Preliminary data based on EPA default model may get state-specific tweaks
byColorado Gross GHG Emissions by Sector, 1990-2020: Historical and projected.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Colorado air quality experts are on the verge of completing a required five-year update of a statewide greenhouse gas emissions inventory, a job that’s become even more critical as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to hover above 400 parts per million.
Staffers with the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division presented preliminary numbers at an April 30 workshop of the Colorado Climate Network. The numbers will likely change before a draft report is released for technical review sometime in the next few weeks, said APCD deputy director Garry Kaufman. (Scroll to the bottom to see a slideshow from the presentation)>
The state used an EPA assessment tool for its measurements that uses default average for many values. Plugging more Colorado-specific values into the model will change the numbers, Kaufman said. (more…)
Filed under: air quality, climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, global warming | Tagged: climate change, Colorado, Colorado greenhouse gas inventory, Environment, greenhouse gases | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 25, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A change in tropical wind patterns could impact winter weather in the northern hemisphere.
A ‘fingerprint’ of the expected global warming signal?
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A regular cycle of high-altitude winds in the tropics has weakened substantially in the past few decades, showing a clear fingerprint of greenhouse gas-induced global warming.
The winds in question, about 10 miles up, alternate between easterlies and westerlies about every other year, affecting chemical composition of the global atmosphere and even the climate at Earth’s surface, according to researchers with the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology.
Specifically, those atmospheric pulses can modify the behavior of monsoon precipitation and influence stratospheric circulation in northern hemisphere winter by inducing sudden stratospheric warmings that, in turn, can lead to outbreaks of Arctic weather across the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere. (more…)
Filed under: air quality, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Atmosphere of Earth, climate, climate change, global warming, Greenhouse gas, Quasi-biennial oscillation, tropical atmosphere | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Federal judge once again rejects mining industry challenge to withdrawal
Speculative uranium plays have raised the prospect of mining in the vicinity of the Grand Canyon. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A moratorium on uranium mining in the greater Grand Canyon region withstood another test this week, as U.S. District Judge David Campbell denied a uranium industry motion to reconsider his previous ruling to let the temporary ban stand.
Mining interests could still go to a federal appeals court, but for now, the withdrawal enacted last year by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will stand.
“It’s another good day for the Grand Canyon, and for rivers, wildlife, and communities across the West,” said Ted Zukoski of Earthjustice, one the attorneys representing conservation groups and the Havasupai Tribe in the case. “The court has now twice rejected the uranium industry’s attempt to cripple the Interior Department’s ability to temporarily protect lands from destructive mining.” (more…)
Filed under: air quality, Environment, national parks, public lands | Tagged: Department of Interior, Earthjustice, Grand Canyon, Havasupai, Ken Salazar, National Mining Association, uranium, uranium mining | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 29, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Conservation report outlines steps to mitigate potential impacts
Oil and gas drilling near national parks could affect air and water quality in pristine, protected areas. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — After years of watching federal agencies haphazardly issuing leases for oil and gas drilling on public lands near national parks, conservation advocates say it’s time for a more systematic approach.
With the Bureau of Land Management currently updating national guidelines, the National Parks Conservation Association has outlined potential threats to parks in a new report.
“Our national parks are America’s most treasured places, and we need to treat them carefully as we develop the nation’s natural gas and oil,” said NPCA Vice President for the Center for Park Research Jim Nations. “Our research revealed that some national parks are already in peril. Unless we take quick action, air, water, and wildlife will experience permanent harm in other national parks as well.” (more…)
Filed under: air quality, energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: BLM, Bureau of Land management, energy, Environment, fracking, Glacier National Park, Grand Teton National Park, National Park Service, national parks, National Parks Conservation Association | 4 Comments »
Posted on April 26, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Isoprene, a chemical emitted by trees interacts with manmade nitrogen oxides to create particulate pollution. Bob Berwyn photo.
Tree chemicals combine with nitrogen oxides to form potentially dangerous particulates
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — President Ronald Reagan might have been on to something when he infamously claimed that trees cause pollution. While he was widely ridiculed for his statement, scientists later confirmed that a certain chemical emitted by trees also contributes to the production of particulate matter in the atmosphere.
The chemical in question is isoprene, an abundant molecule in the air that protects leaves from oxygen damage and temperature fluctuations. But those chemical processes have not been well understood, so researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill set out to look for answers. (more…)
Filed under: air quality, Environment, forests | Tagged: air pollution, Environment, isoprene, Nitrogen oxide, Particulates, Ronald Reagan, trees, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 24, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Air pollution is a growing concern at Devils Postpile National Monument, near Mammoth Lakes, California. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
Wildfires, industrial sources contribute to ozone problems in the Eastern Sierra Nevada
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Devils Postpile National Monument in the eastern Sierra Nevada is about as far as you can get from California’s industrial urban centers, yet air quality at the site has suffered in recent years as pollution blows in from other parts of the state, according to a new U.S. Forest Service-led study.
The monument, near the resort town of Mammoth Lakes, features one of the best examples of columnar basalt formations and is also a gateway to High Sierra wilderness areas bordering on Yosemite National Park.
Ozone precursors (nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds) from wildland fires, as well as ozone from the Bay Area and Central Valley resulted in exceedances of federal air quality standards, as well as state air quality standards during the 2007-2008 study period, at levels that pose a risk to sensitive individuals and indicate a need for long-term ozone monitoring. (more…)
Filed under: air quality, Environment, national parks, public lands, US Forest Service | Tagged: air pollution, California, Devils Postpile National Monument, Environment, ozone, U.S. Forest Service | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 20, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Study shows exposure to highway pollution increases risk of heart disease.
Evidence mounts that living near highways is bad — very bad — for your health
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — If the noise from nearby highways doesn’t kill you, the road dust just might, according to a new study presented recently at a health conference in Rome.
Previous research in Denmark showed that traffic noise was significantly associated with risk of heart attack — for every 10 decibel increase in noise exposure (either at the time of the attack or over the five years preceding it) there was a 12 percent increased risk.
The new study presented at the EuroPRevent 2013 shows that long-term exposure to fine particle matter (PM) air pollution in part derived from traffic pollution is also associated with atherosclerosis independent of traffic noise. (more…)
Filed under: air quality, Environment | Tagged: air pollution, Environment, health, highway pollution, Particulates, Traffic noise | 1 Comment »