Can a water plan save the Colorado River?

In-depth coverage of the Colorado water plan is unfolding in a new series of stories for the Colorado Independent

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Gotta love that Colorado River. Want to help save it? Conserve! @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado’s creeping water crisis isn’t as dramatic as a wildfire or a flood, but its consequences could be just as severe. State and federal water experts say the state will see a huge gap between supply and demand within a few decades, and possibly sooner if regional drought continues. Continue reading

Of water fleas and global warming

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A new study shows how water fleas can adapt genetically to climate change. Photo courtesy USGS.

Study shows rapid genetic adaptation to warming ponds

Staff Report

FRISCO — Questions abound about the ability of plants and animals to adapt to global warming, but a new study by Belgian biologists shows that one species — the humble water flea — had already done just that.

The tiny aquatic organism lives in shallow lakes and usually reproduce asexually by cloning themselves. But when food is short or the water gets too hot, they mate and lay long-lasting eggs meant to survive for a better day.

Biologists with KU Leuven said that, when compared ‘resurrected’ water fleas — hatched from 40-year-old eggs — with more recent specimens, they found that the offspring hatched from the newer eggs were more tolerant of warm water. Continue reading

USGS study says global warming threatens genetic diversity in Columbia River Basin bull trout

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Bull trout in the Columbia River Basin. USGS photo.

Warming water, more winter flooding not a good combination for fish

Staff Report

FRISCO — A native western trout species that’s been listed as endangered since 1998 will likely be further threatened by global warming, according to biologists, who found that genetic diversity in bull trout is lowest where stream temperatures are warmest and winter flooding is highest.

With these trends predicted to continue, a new U.S. Geological Survey-led study suggests that the species is more susceptible to climate change than previously thought. Continue reading

Study confirms global warming high the atmosphere

‘We should no longer accept the claim that there is warming missing higher in the atmosphere’

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All of South America, nearly all of North America, as well as Eurasia, were much warmer than average in April 2015.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Decades of readings from thousands of measuring stations around the world show in excruciating detail how the Earth is warming under its thickening blanket of greenhouse gases, but tracking the temperature rise in the upper levels of the atmosphere has been more elusive.

But new research by Australian climate scientists,  published in Environmental Research Letters, confirms strong warming in the upper troposphere, crushing yet another argument used by science-denying global warming skeptics who try to cast doubt on the overwhelming evidence of dangerous climate change.

The findings are based on a new analysis of data from the global weather balloon network. The evaluation found “clear indications of warming in the upper troposphere,” according to professor Steve Sherwood, with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. Continue reading

Environment: Honeybees take another big hit

A widely used class of pesticides is probably responsible for a massive honeybee die-off.

A widely used class of pesticides is probably responsible for a massive honeybee die-off. @bberwyn photo.

Annual survey shows disturbing rise in summer bee colony losses

Staff Report

FRISCO — Commercial beekeepers took another big hit last summer, reporting that they lost more than 40 percent of their honey bee colonies during the past year. Summer losses were higher than winter losses for the first time in five years, stoking concerns over the long-term trend of poor health in honey bee colonies, according to University of Maryland scientists. Continue reading

Environment: UK study shows how heavy metal pollution alters genetics of trout populations

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Some trout populations in Colorado have been affected by toxic heavy metal pollution from abandoned mines.

Historic UK mining contamination has cut genetic diversity of brown trout

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a study that has implications for Colorado rivers and fish, scientists in the UK have shown that heavy metal pollution from mining has dramatically reduced  genetic diversity of brown trout.

The University of Exeter researchers say their findings show that human activity can alter the genetic patterns of wild populations — an important issue in modern conservation. Continue reading

Climate: When good ozone goes bad

Western U.S. Counties Violating Current and Proposed Ozone Air Quality Standards.

Western U.S. counties violating current and proposed ozone air quality standards. Map courtesy Jeremy Nichols/ClimateWest blog.

La Niña weather pattern found to contribute to spikes in western ozone levels

Staff Report

FRISCO — Spring ozone formation in parts of the western U.S. appear to be linked with the hemispheric La Niña weather pattern, when the path of the jet stream forces high altitude ozone down to ground level.

After discovering the link, a team of researchers say their findings may help forecast harmful ozone episodes well in advance, which could have implications for attaining the national ozone standard. Continue reading

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