Climate: Study links deadly 2010-2011 Australia floods with long-term ocean warming


A NASA Earth Observatory satellite image shows swollen rivers in northwestern Australia during record-setting floods in 2010-2011. Visit this NASA page for more info.

‘Take action to forestall global warming …’

Staff Report

Deadly floods that swept across Australia in 2010 and 2011 were at least partly fueled by long-term warming in the Indian and Pacific oceans, according to a new study that highlights some of threats posed by human-caused climate change.

The research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, shows that ocean warming can have profound effects on atmospheric circulation, delivering huge amounts of moisture to land areas under certain conditions. Continue reading

Study suggests California weather will be more extreme

More drought, more flooding …


An intensifying El Niño cycle could affect California weather.

Staff Report

The Pacific Ocean’s El Niño-La Niña cycle may become a dominant factor in West Coast weather by the end of this century and lead to more frequent weather extremes, according to a new study published in Nature Communications. Based on the findings, California could see the number of extreme droughts and floods by 2100, the researchers found.

A better understanding of what gives rise to El Nino and La Nina cycles — together known as El Nino-Southern Oscillation — might help California predict and prepare for more frequent droughts and floods in the coming century. Continue reading

Study says big storms could swamp New York every 25 years


Tropical Storm Joaquin is a potential threat to the Eastern Seaboard, although there is still a lot of uncertainty about the storm’s exact track, according to the National Hurricane Center.

‘A storm that occurred once in seven generations is now occurring twice in a generation …’

Staff Report

As Hurricane Joaquin winds up, potentially taking aim at the Eastern Seaboard, researchers are warning that the flood risk in New York City and New Jersey has grown considerably in the last 1,000 years.

When the climate researchers compared both sea-level rise rates and storm surge heights in prehistoric and modern eras, they found that the combined increases of each have raised the likelihood of a devastating 500-year flood occurring as often as every 25 years. Continue reading

Climate: NOAA report says rising sea level and El Niño could combine to up coastal flood threats

Inundation ‘tipping points’ are near


This year’s strong El Niño could increase the risk of nuisance flooding in many coastal communities.

Staff Report

FRISCO — When you take steadily rising sea levels and add in a strong El Niño, it’s a perfect recipe for nuisance flooding, federal climate researchers said in a new report that aims to quantify high water risks for coastal communities.

According to the NOAA report, many mid-Atlantic and West Coast communities could see the highest number of nuisance flooding days on record through April, with some locations seeing a 33 to 125 percent increase in the number of nuisance flooding days. Continue reading

Loss of coral reefs could make some islands uninhabitable

The residents of

Some reef-ringed atolls will see their drinking water supplies wiped out due to global warming.

Island flooding likely to increase dramatically as coral reefs die

Staff Report

FRISCO —Besides losing critical marine nurseries, the decline of coral reefs will put some island communities at direct risk of flooding and even threaten freshwater drinking supplies, according to a new study that tries to project how climate change will affect the ability of coral reefs to mitigate coastal hazards.

About 30 million people living on low-lying coral islands and atolls are dependent on ecosystem services provided by reefs. Right now, some of those islands see flooding from large waves a few times each decade, but that number is expected to increase dramatically. Continue reading

Spike in extreme rains linked with global warming

Raindrops splashing into a pond in Vail. PHOTO BY DYLAN BERWYN.

A new study documents a distinct increase in extreme rainfall events linked with global warming.

Southeast Asia sees biggest increase in dangerous rainstorms

Staff Report

FRISCO —There’s clear evidence that global warming is causing more frequent record-breaking rainstorms, according to scientists with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

The upward trend in extreme rainfall events has been striking in the last 30 years, and particularly noticeable in Southeast Asia, the researchers said in a new study, explaining that the spike lies outside the range of natural variability.

The worldwide increase is consistent with rising global temperatures, which are caused by greenhouse-gas emissions from burning fossil fuels, the scientists said. Continue reading

Summit County: Dillon Reservoir outflows boosted again


The Blue River near flood stage near Silverthorne.

Blue River running high through Silverthorne

Staff Report

FRISCO — Flows in the Lower Blue River, below Dillon Dam, are going up again.

With snowmelt speeding up under warm and sunny skies, Denver is boosting the outflow to 1,800 cfs to avoid a scenario where Dillon Reservoir spills at a level that causes outflows to go over that level.

That’s exactly what could happen without upping controlled releases now, Denver Water spokesman Matt Wittern said via email.

“Our experts predict that, if we maintained 1,700 cfs outflow and inflows remain around 2,400, Dillon Reservoir would be full and spilling within a week,” Wittern said. That could bring excessive flows and the potential for flooding below Dillon Reservoir.

Wittern said Denver Water is estimating the remaining snowpack in the Blue River as equivalent to between five and seven inches of water near Hoosier and Fremont passes.

That snow is melting fast, with no letup in sight. Inflows from runoff into Dillon Reservoir averaged 2,467 cfs Tuesday, which was well above current and planned outflows. And those inflows aren’t expected to drop below 1,700 cfs in the next seven days, which means Dillon Reservoir will continue to fill quickly, at the rate of about six inches per day. As of Wednesday, the reservoir was 3.25 feet below capacity.

Wittern also explained that Denver Water can’t legally divert water through the Roberts Tunnel if it’s not needed.

“Right now water levels are very high on the South PIatte River, eliminating this action as an option,” he said.

Troy Wineland, state water commissioner for the Blue River, said property owners in the Lower Blue who face flooding risks can prepare by perusing Summit County’s High Water Preparedness” manual which includes instructions on sandbag preparation and placement, as well as free sand / bag supply locations.

Wineland also said water users in the Lower Blue should be aware that higher flows will push more water through diversions, possibly over-topping in irrigation ditches.

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