Posted on April 15, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Historical water data not a good basis for planning; strategic planning and prompt action needed
Many parts of the world could experience serious drought by mid-century.
The western U.S. may already be in a new drought regime driven by global warming.
FRISCO —The western U.S. will likely be one of the first places to experience unprecedented drought driven by climate change, according to new research by scientists with the Vienna-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, extreme weather, global warming | Tagged: climate adaptation, climate change, drought, European Geophysical Union, global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, IIASA, water supplies | 3 Comments »
Posted on April 10, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Record low streamflows expected in many areas this summer
Precipitation for the 2015 water year- to-date is now below normal over most of the West except for some northwestern areas. The dry March has significantly affected this picture since a month ago, when far more of the West was near normal.
FRISCO —Federal water watchers say their April 1 readings show that precipitation thus far in the 2015 water year (beginning October 1, 2014) is now below normal over most of the West except for some northwestern areas and coastal Alaska.
Snowpack has declined significantly since last month throughout the West due to the warm and dry March. Only high- elevation areas in the Rocky Mountains and Interior Alaska retain somewhat near normal snowpack.
Streamflow forecasts have dropped since last month due to a lack of snow accumulation during March and an early snowmelt, with most regions now expecting below normal streamflow. Reservoir storage is currently below normal in the Southwest and Nevada, with near to above normal storage elsewhere. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, El Niño, extreme weather, global warming | Tagged: climate change, drought, extreme weather, global warming, streamflow forecast, Western United States | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 4, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Not much relief from El Niño
This west-wide map shows that not a single river basin the West has an above-average snowpack as of April 2, 2015.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Unless there’s a drastic change in the weather the next few weeks, 2015 will become one of those poster-child years for how global warming will affect the West. By early April — when the snowpack usually peaks across the region’s mountains — many areas were already seeing a decline. In the Rocky Mountains, the snowpack in nearly every river basin was at least 30 percent below average, while picture in the Far West was even more grim. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, global warming, Snow and weather, Summit County snow and weather | Tagged: climate change, drought, global warming, The West, western snowpack, Western snowpack declining | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 24, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
New CU-Boulder study has implications for forest managers and Red Zone communities
*More Summit Voice stories on beetle-kill and forests here.
FRISCO — Communities and resource managers looking to address the threat of wildfires should focus less on tree-killing beetles and more on the underlying forces driving the trend toward larger fires.
Warmer temperatures and increased drought are the key factors, said Colorado-based researchers who took a close look at patterns of beetle-kill and wildfires in recent years.
Their study found that western forests killed by mountain pine beetles are no more at risk to burn than healthy forests. Those findings fly in the face of both public perception and policy, the scientists acknowledged.
“What we are seeing in this study is that at broad scales, fire does not necessarily follow mountain pine beetles,” said CU-Boulder Research Scientist Tania Schoennagel, of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. “It’s well known, however, that fire does follow drought.” Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, climate change, Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, global warming, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: beetle kill, climate change, drought, Forest health, forests, global warming, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 21, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Continued Western drought, warmth set stage for significant wildfires later this summer
After a dry and warm winter, southern Alaska will have a better than average chance of signficant wildfire activity this spring. Map via NIFC.
By Bob Berwyn
Western wildfires have always been shape-shifting beasts, roaring to life wherever there is hot and dry weather, wind and fuel. But last year’s relatively cool and wet summer brought relief to parts of the region — including Colorado — that had been especially hard the previous few years.
The 2015 wildfire season is starting similarly slow to last year, according to statistics from the National Interagency Fire Center showing that, since January 1, there have been about 6,200 fires that burned across a 100,000 acre footprint, just 30 percent of the average from the past 10 years. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, forest fires, forests, wildfires | Tagged: 2015 wildfire outlook, climate change, drought, Environment, forest fires, forests, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 3, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Snowpack at record low levels
A NASA Earth Observatory photo shows dry conditions in California in Jan. 2014.
FRISCO — The snowpack in some key California watersheds is at or near all-time record low, the state’s water managers reported this week after conducting their monthly surveys.
At one site, west of Sacramento in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the California Department of Water Resources reported less than 1 inch of water content in the snowpack, just 5 percent of the March 3 historical average for that site. Snowpack measurements are online here. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought | Tagged: California, California snowpack, climate, climate change, drought, global warming | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 3, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
A NASA Earth Observatory map shows the rainfall deficit during the 2006-2010 drought across the fertile crescent of Iraq and Syria.
Population growth, drought and poor governance combined to spur 2011 Syria uprising
FRISCO — A sustained drought in the Middle East, driven by global warming, may have been a key trigger for the brutal war in Syria, according to researchers. The drought, lasting from 2006 to 2010, destroyed agriculture in northern Syria, forcing farmers into cities, where poverty, government mismanagement and other factors created unrest that exploded in spring 2011.
“We’re not saying the drought caused the war,” said Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who coauthored a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “We’re saying that added to all the other stressors, it helped kick things over the threshold into open conflict. And a drought of that severity was made much more likely by the ongoing human-driven drying of that region.” Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, extreme weather, global warming | Tagged: climate change, drought, global warming, Middle East, Syrian uprising | 2 Comments »