Posted on July 31, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Near critical shortages in California prompt action
Heading downstream … bberwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — With Colorado River water supplies disappearing at a dizzying rate, and with a thirsty — and politically mighty — California parched by drought, the biggest water users at the table said this week they’ll invest $11 million to try and conserve significant amounts of water across all sectors, including including agricultural, municipal and industrial uses.
The Central Arizona Project, Denver Water, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Southern Nevada Water Authority all signed on to what is being presented as a landmark water conservation agreement aimed at demonstrating “the viability of cooperative, voluntary compensated measures,” according to a press release from Denver Water. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Colorado River, Environment, politics, rivers, water | Tagged: Colorado River, Colorado River Basin, conservation, Denver Water, drought, water | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 25, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Satellite data suggests more than 75 percent of water loss in drought-stricken basin is from groundwater pumping
A new study quantifies groundwater depletion in the Colorado River Basin. Map courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Groundwater pumping is a huge factor in the Colorado River Basin water equation, California-based researchers said this week, announcing the results of satellite study that for the first time quantifies how groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states.
Along with surface diversions and pipelines, water users in the basin are also unsustainably depleting underground aquifers. For example, mountain resort towns in Colorado tap underground water from headwaters streams like Tenmile Creek and the Blue River for municipal use.
The new study found that more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought, the researchers concluded. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, Colorado, Colorado River, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Colorado River Basin, drought, groundwater depletion | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 4, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Old Douglas firs can help reveal historic climate cycles.
Recent dry spells not so bad compared to past centuries
FRISCO — A tree-ring reconstruction of Utah’s climate going back to 1429 shows that the state has experienced several mega-droughts in past centuries that would be life-changing if they happen again, according to Brigham Young University professor Matthew Bekker.
The worst drought of the modern era, the 1930s Dust Bowl, barely ranks on the top 10 list of droughts in that 500-year span,” Bekker said. The findings reinforce similar studies for the Colorado River Basin. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought | Tagged: climate, drought, megadroughts, tree rings, Utah | 3 Comments »
Posted on April 15, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A NASA photo taken from the International Space Station shows sunlight glinting off the Amazon River.
Drought the main driver of destructive fires
By Staff Report
FRISCO — Longer droughts, land-use changes and wildfires may be pushing parts of the Amazon rainforest toward an ecological tipping point, a team of scientists said after analyzing the effects of fire in a series of study plots.
The changes may abruptly increase tree mortality and change vegetation over large areas, the researchers said, pointing out that current Amazon forest models don’t include the impacts of wildfires. As a result, projections of future forest health tend to underestimate the amount of tree death and overestimate overall forest health, said Dr. Michael Coe, of the Woods Hole Research Center. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Amazon Rainforest, drought, Environment, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 3, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Drought is expected to expand the southwestern U.S. and other regions.
Evaporation seen as huge factor in climate calculations
FRISCO — Increasing global temperatures will drive drought expansion regardless of precipitation in some cases, as more moisture evaporates from soils.
An increase in evaporative drying means that even regions expected to get more rain, including important wheat, corn and rice belts in the western United States and southeastern China, will be at risk of drought. The study excludes Antarctica.
The new study models the effects of both changing rainfall and evaporation rates on future drought, estimating that 12 percent of land will be subject to drought by 2100 through rainfall changes alone; but the drying will spread to 30 percent of land if higher evaporation rates from the added energy and humidity in the atmosphere is considered.
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, global warming | Tagged: climate change, drought, global warming | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 19, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Long-term Pacific Ocean cycles could be driving SW drought
What’s the role of natural climate variability in Southwestern droughts?
FRISCO — If you’re ready to blame drought in the southwestern U.S. on global warming, it might be time to rethink that conclusion.
According to scientists with the University of California, Riverside, dry conditions in the region may be linked with an expansion of the Earth’s tropical belt during the past few decades. And that expansion is likely driven by multi-decadal sea surface temperature variability in the Pacific Ocean, according to the new study. Other explanations for this widening have been proposed, including radiative forcing due to greenhouse gas increase and stratospheric ozone depletion. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, extreme weather, global warming | Tagged: climate change, drought, extreme weather, PDO | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 17, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Severe drought continues in Southwest
California, Arizona and New Mexico reporting very dry conditions.
By Summit VoiceFRISCO — Snowpack across the West is still somewhat of mixed bag in this no-Niño winter, but February storms did help bolster water supplies across the northern tier of states, according to the monthly update from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
East of the Continental Divide as well as parts of Washington, northern Oregon, northern Idaho and western Montana are now forecast to have near-normal or above normal water supplies, according to the forecast from the NRCS National Water and Climate Center. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, extreme weather, global warming, Snow and weather | Tagged: climate, drought, stream flow forecasts, The West | 1 Comment »