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Crowdfunding: Nearly 70 percent there!

The Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger Project needs your support

It's getting warm around here!

It’s getting warm around here!

Love the Rockies? Support our independent journalism project.

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By Summit Voice

FRISCO — With NOAA reporting yet another record high global temperature for June, and afternoon temperatures soaring into the 80s here in Frisco, there’s every reason to believe that we’re heading for uncharted climate territory in the Rocky Mountains. Already, the birds and bees are out of synch with wildflowers, the snowpack is melting weeks earlier than it used to, and spring dust storms are blackening the Rocky Mountain snowpack more frequently each year.

It’s really important to know what those changes mean for us, and especially for future generations — our kids and grandkids — because they will have to live in the greenhouse-gas warmed world that we’ve created with just a few decades of fossil fuel consumption. That’s why once again I’m asking you, faithful Summit Voice readers and subscribers, to support our Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger project my making a pledge right now at Beacon, our crowdfunding partner: http://www.beaconreader.com/projects/rocky-mountain-climate-rangers.

And just to be clear, the Beacon-backed Climate Ranger project won’t have any negative effect on Summit Voice. In fact, your support will help enrich the Summit Voice news and photo feed.

Some of you already responded to our grassroots appeal in the last few months. It was your generous response that encouraged us to pursue funding for this two-month father-son climate journalism trek. And right now, Beacon is generously matching every pledge dollar for dollar, so when you support us, your money will be doubled. We’re only about a week away from the end of our pledge drive (July 31) and we’ll only be funded if we get the full amount, so your support is critical.

You can support the project for as little as $5 but we have some great incentives for larger pledges, including a free harvest dinner at the popular Sunshine Cafe in Dillon. A $100 pledge includes dinner for two, along with a climate journalism presentation at the Sunshine Cafe. It’s a great deal, and you’d pay almost that much just to have a nice dinner for two, so why not support homegrown environmental journalism at the same time.

For $200, you’ll be invited to the dinner AND you’ll be eligible for a large-format fine art print from one of Summit Voice’s acclaimed online galleries, or an image from the reporting trek — and I’m sure we’ll get some great shots!

With our deadline approaching, please consider making a pledge now, and if you can’t, please pass along this post via email to anyone who might be interested. Thanks for reading and your continued support.

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mtnYour contribution to this independent journalism project will be matched dollar for dollar by Beacon. Click to learn more and make a donation.

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Climate: Has global warming slowed down?

Study shows natural variability still a factor in climate change

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Staff Report

FRISCO — A cool phase of natural climate variability may have canceled out the heat-trapping effects of greenhouse gases the past 15 years, which would explain the so-called global warming slowdown, according to McGill University physicist Shaun Lovejoy.

In a paper published recently in Geophysical Research Letters, Lovejoy concluded after a statistical analysis of average global temperatures between 1998 and 2013 thatslowdown in global warming during this period is consistent with natural variations in temperature.

In a paper published this month in Geophysical Research Letters, Lovejoy concludes that a natural cooling fluctuation during this period largely masked the warming effects of a continued increase in man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Continue reading

Environment: Deep permafrost melt, continued mountain glacier loss highlighted in NOAA 2013 climate check-up

Greenhouse gas levels again reach record highs, wtih CO2 crossing 400 ppm threshold for the first time in the anthropocene — last tine CO2 was this high, Earth was a much warmer place, with sea levels 20 feet higher than now …

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This graph of global glacier loss is a mirror image to graphs that show the rise in global temperatures. Graphic courtesy NOAA.

Donate to the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger project

mtnYour contribution to this independent journalism project will be matched dollar for dollar by Beacon. Click to learn more and make a donation.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Last year brought more sobering signs of continued global warming, including record-warm temperatures 20 meters below the ground on Alaska’s North Slope, federal scientists said today, releasing the 2013 State of the Climate report (Blunden, J., and D. S. Arndt, Eds., 2014: State of the Climate in 2013. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 95 (7), S1-S238).

With heat-trapping greenhouse gases reaching record levels in 2013, “the state of the climate is changing more rapidly than at any time in … in the known record,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration director Thomas Karl, outlining the findings in the agency’s annual climate check-up. Read the full report here: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/bams-state-of-the-climate/2013.php.

The deep permafrost melt in the Arctic is probably linked with declining spring snow cover in the region, scientists said, highlighting a steady decline in the northern hemisphere’s reflective blanket of high latitude snow — think of the sunshade you use in a car windshield. Continue reading

Environment: Changes in precipitation may drive birds response to global warming

Perched.

Perched.

New model unravels some of the complexities of how wildlife will respond to global warming

Staff Report

FRISCO — Populations of familiar backyard birds like the rufous hummingbird and evening grosbeak are declining, a trend that may be linked with changes in precipitation patterns across the western U.S.

Scientists studying the changes with a new model say precipitation, rather than temperature, may be the the main factor in determining how birds will respond to climate change.

Several past studies have found that temperature increases can push some animal species – including birds – into higher latitudes or higher elevations. Few studies, however, have tackled the role that changes in precipitation may cause, according to Matthew Betts, an Oregon State University ecologist and a principal investigator on the study. Continue reading

Climate: Tracking the urban heat island effect

city heat

Global warming impacts are magnified in cities.

‘Convective efficiency’ the key factor in city temperatures

Staff Report

FRISCO — Many cities, including Denver, have identified extreme heat as one of the most immediate challenges of global warming, primarily because the urban heat island effect will cause temperatures in urban areas to spike well above readings in the surrounding countryside.

Now, a Yale-led study pinpoints the primary causes of the heat island effect, showing that cities in humid climates face the biggest problems. Along with direct risks like heat stroke, increasing temperatures in cities will also worsen air pollution problems. Continue reading

Oceans: Study shows whales are ecosystem engineers

A North Atlantic right whale and calf. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

A North Atlantic right whale and calf. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Healthy whale populations could buffer oceans from some global warming impacts

Staff Report

FRISCO — Whales may play a much bigger role in ocean ecosystems than previously thought, according to a University of Vermont researcher who studied how the great cetaceans recycle and move nutrients from one region to another.

“For a long time, whales have been considered too rare to make much of a difference in the oceans,” notes University of Vermont conservation biologist Joe Roman.

That was a mistake, he said, explaining how his research shows that whales  have a powerful and positive influence on the function of oceans, global carbon storage, and the health of commercial fisheries. Continue reading

Climate: Are emperor penguins doomed?

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Emperor penguins in Antarctica. Photo courtesy BAS.

New study projects 50 percent decline by century’s end as sea ice habitat dwindles

Staff Report

FRISCO — Antarctica’s emperor penguins may be colonizing new territory right now, but the long-term outlook for the birds is grim, according to new research showing that changes in sea ice concentration will likely cause most colonies to decline by 50 percent by the end of the century.

Even the most remote reaches of Antarctica won’t be immune to the changes, the study leaders said, describing the results of their findings in a new article in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The study concludes that emperor penguins are fully deserving of an endangered species listing based on global warming threats. The research will help inform federal bio-crats as they ponder a listing under the Endangered Species Act. Continue reading

Environment: Are Antarctica’s emperor penguins going mobile in response to global warming?

Emporer penguins and chicks near the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica.

Emporer penguins and chicks near the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Photo courtesy BAS.

Penguin populations in flux

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Just six months after scientists documented breeding emperor penguins moving from sea ice to ice-shelf habitat, a new study reinforces the idea that Antarctica’s iconic birds may be more mobile than thought. It’s too early to say for sure, but that could be good news in terms in terms of global warming, which is likely to change the face of the frozen continent in the decades ahead.

The fundamental questions hinge on how dependent the birds are on their icy habitat. Some studies have shown that emperor penguins may suffer as sea ice shrinks, while other researchers recently doubled their estimate for total population numbers. Overall, penguin populations around Antarctica are in a state of flux. Read all our emperor penguin stories here. Continue reading

Climate: Is the Greenland Ice Sheet near a tipping point?

How fast will the Greenland Ice Sheet melt? Map courtesy Change in Elevation over Greenland ICESat's precise elevation change measurements, combined with information from other technologies, are producing a comprehensive look at the behavior of Earth’s ice sheets -- critical for quantifying forecasts of sea level rise. Scientists used ICESat data to show changes in elevation over the Greenland ice sheet between 2003 and 2006. White regions indicate a slight thickening, while the blue shades indicate a thinning of the ice sheet. Gray indicates areas where no change in elevation was measured.  Credit: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio

How fast will the Greenland Ice Sheet melt?
Credit: NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio.

Detailed chemical analysis shows that southern portion of the ice sheet melted during historic warm phase

Staff Report

FRISCO —A period of global warming about 400,000 years ago may have pushed the Greenland Ice Sheet past a climate tipping point, resulting in widespread melting and raising sea level by more than 15 feet during a time when atmospheric temperatures were similar to current conditions.

The new study is one piece of a massive effort to understand how fast Greenland’s ice will melt as heat-trapping greenhouse gases force global temperatures upward. That melting will have huge implications for millions of people who live near coastlines, as well as for planners and policy makers trying to figure out how to prepare for the coming inundations. Continue reading

Roundup: No fish-eating spiders, this week

Independent journalism: Climate, penguins and uranium mining

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Staff Report

FRISCO — I didn’t quite get around to reporting on the discovery of new fish-eating spider species last week, but I did cover a lot of environmental territory.

Along with climate stories in Summit Voice I wrote about the emerald ash borer invasion and hydropower for Boulderganic, and even penned a food- and environmental themed Colorado roadtrip story for the Boulder Weekly.

On a more serious note, I was the first journalist to take a close look at the City of Denver’s as-yet unpublished climate change adaptation plan, showing that life in the Mile High City could be nearly unbearable by 2050 — but also showing that making adjustments for global warming could have huge benefits for Denver by expanding green infrastructure. Read the Colorado Independent story here: The Big Schvitz. Continue reading

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