Posted on December 26, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Some birds won’t nest at all during drought years.
Some Sonoran Desert species skip breeding entirely during extreme drought
FRISCO — Drought-driven delayed nesting by some southwestern bird species may lead to crashing populations, scientists said in a new study that looked closely at Sonoran Desert bird species, such as Black-tailed Gnatcatchers and Verdins.
The research suggests drought conditions are delaying nesting by two weeks or more for some species. Despite recent rainfall, drought conditions persist in much of the Southwest, making life tough even for species adapted to a dry environment.
Delayed nesting makes the birds more vulnerable to nest predators and parasites, according to the scientists with Point Blue Conservation Science and the U.S. Geological Survey finds that increased drought frequency in southwestern North America results in increased instances of delayed nesting. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, climate change, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Birds, climate change, drought, extreme weather, Southwest | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 13, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Attribution studies still somewhat sketchy
Does global warming cause extreme weather?
FRISCO — A Stanford University climate researcher says that better modeling, advanced statistical analyses and a more robust set of observational climate data will help scientists under stand whether global warming is leading to more extreme weather events like floods, droughts and heat waves.
Such events appear to happening more frequently around the world, but because high-quality weather records go back only about 100 years, most scientists have been reluctant to say if global warming affected particular extreme events. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, extreme weather, global warming | Tagged: climate change, drought, extreme weather, flooding, global warming, Storm surge | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 19, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Storage still near all-time lows
A 2014 water year map shows the continuing drought conditions in California, as well as dry patches from Texas, extending north into Oklahoma.
FRISCO — Near-average inflow to Lake Powell the past 12 months helped maintain storage at a similar level to last year in the key Colorado River reservoir. According to the Bureau of Reclamation. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: 2014 water year, Colorado River, drought, Lake Powell | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 15, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A dust storm engulfs Stratford, Texas in April of 1935. The drought of 1934 was likely made worse by dust storms triggered by the poor agricultural practices of the time.
Credit: NOAA/George E. Marsh Album.
Severe dust storms spawned even more widespread drought, research shows
FRISCO — With all the recent talk of looming megadroughts, the 1934 peak of the Dust Bowl era still remains the most severe and widespread drought in North America during the past 1,000 years, climate scientists say.
Based on tree-ring studies and other physical records, the only other comparable event was way back in the 1500s.
The extent of the 1934 drought was approximately seven times larger than droughts of comparable intensity that struck North America between 1000 A.D. and 2005, and was caused in part by an atmospheric phenomenon that may have also led to the current drought in California, according to a new study. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, extreme weather, global warming | Tagged: California drought, climate, climate change, drought, Dust Bowl, extreme weather, weather | 1 Comment »
Posted on September 2, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Increased plant growth projected to use more water
Global warming is likely to have a big impact on mountain runoff. bberwyn photo.
FRISCO — Forests and brush moving up mountainsides as the climate warms could take a big gulp from streams and rivers, potentially cutting runoff by as much as 25 percent by the end of the century. Warmer temperatures will accelerate plant growth, triggering more water absorption and evaporation, according to researchers with UC Irvine and UC Merced.
“Scientists have recognized for a while that something like this was possible, but no one had been able to quantify whether it could be a big effect,” said UCI professor of Earth system science Michael L. Goulden. “It’s clear that this could be a big effect of climate warming and that water managers need to recognize and plan for the possibility of increased water losses from forest evaporation.”
According to the researchers, runoff from mountain ranges is vulnerable to temperature hikes that lengthen growing seasons and result in more vegetation growth at high elevations, according to the study, to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming, rivers, water | Tagged: California, climate change, drought, global warming, hydrology, runoff, Sierra Nevada, Water Resources | 5 Comments »
Posted on September 2, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
New inventory assesses state’s woodland resources
FRISCO — Mortality is increasing and growth is slowing down in New Mexico’s forest lands, according to a new forest inventory released in late August. The only species showing overall growth are ponderosa and piñon pines, as well as junipers, as insects, wildfires drought and disease take an increasing toll on the state’s woodlands.
Forests grow on about 25 million acres in New Mexico, with 44 percent on private lands and 31 percent on national forest lands. About 40 percent (10.8 million acres) of the forests are piñon-juniper woodlands, by far the state’s most extensive forest type. Gambel oak is the most abundant tree species by number of trees, and ponderosa pine is the most abundant by volume or biomass. Overall, researchers estimate there are more than 6 billion live trees growing in the state.
The inventory documented the drought-induced piñon pine die-off in the early 2000s, estimating that about 8 percent the species died, but noted that the mortality rate has tapered off.New Mexico’s aspen forests, covering about 380,000 acres, held steady in the past decade. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: climate, drought, Environment, Forest health, Forest Service, forests, New Mexico, piñon-juniper forests | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 1, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Water experts to discuss role of agriculture in Colorado River puzzle
Can ag water save the Colorado River?
FRISCO — A new $11 million effort to keep water flowing in the Colorado River to Lake Powell could up the pressure on Colorado farmers and ranchers to sell or lease their water.
In fact, agriculture is in the crosshairs in Colorado, according to the Colorado River Water Conservation District, which represents western Colorado water interests. Low water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead — the key storage buckets on the Colorado — have prompted measures to put more water in the river.
The CRWCD’s annual water seminar (Sept. 19, Grand Junction) will focus on what that means for western Colorado, with panel discussions and presentations on ag efficiency, the worth of ag efficiency and how ag efficiency works with the chief goal of sustaining ag as a viable industry. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, Colorado, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: agriculture, Colorado River, drought, Lake Powell, water | Leave a comment »