Category: Snow and weather

Arapahoe Basin to host après-ski climate panel talk

April 8 session to focus on ‘nuts & bolts’ of global warming impacts

Dylan Berwyn carves fresh powder in the Alleys at Arapahoe Basin several years ago. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

In an era marked by political attacks on science and deliberate lies about climate change from the highest levels of the U.S. government, including the president and the head of the EPA, it’s more important than ever for Americans to inform themselves with the best possible information about the impacts of global warming.

Skiers have as much to lose as anyone. Glaciers are shrinking everywhere, overall there is less  snow and winters are getting shorter at both ends, but especially in the spring. In a groundbreaking 2013 study, the U.S. Geological study found a 20 percent decline in Rocky Mountain snow cover since 1980.

Another research paper published just this year in meticulous Swiss fashion documented that the snow season has shortened by 37 days since 1970, with a 25 percent decline in the average maximum snow depth across the entire Swiss Alps, at all elevations. The researchers were surprised to find the decline even at the higher mountain weather stations close to famous resorts like Zermatt and Davos.

Skiers need to be part of the solution, not the problem, and the first step is having science-based information to inform your actions. To that end, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is hosting an April 8 climate science apres ski session featuring researchers who focus on snow, water and climate. The idea is to  address some of the common questions people have about climate change from a nuts and bolts science perspective. The panel will be moderated by ski area chief Alan Henceroth and Lindsay Bourgoine from Protect Our Winters. Continue reading “Arapahoe Basin to host après-ski climate panel talk”

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Rising sea level causing groundwater floods in Hawaii

Rising sea level is pushing groundwater up and causing problems in Honolulu and Waikiki, pictured in a 2001 LandSat image via NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Study documents cesspool inundations with possible discharges of effluent to the environment

Staff report

Sea level rise caused by global warming may not be as obvious along the rugged and often steep coast of Hawaii as it is in low-lying areas like Holland, but it’s nonetheless going to present huge challenges in the decades ahead.

Scientists with the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (UHM) say much of  urban Honolulu and Waikiki face a threat of groundwater inundation, which is flooding that happens when rising sea level pushes groundwater above the ground surface. Continue reading “Rising sea level causing groundwater floods in Hawaii”

February ends up as second-warmest on record for U.S.

16 states report record heat

States stretching from Texas to New York were record warm in February.

Staff Report

Nearly a quarter of the U.S. was record warm in February, and nationwide, it ended up as the second-warmest February on record, just behind 1954. The winter (December to February) was the sixth-warmest, according to the latest State of the Climate update from the National Centers for Environmental Information.

By the numbers, the average temperature across the lower 48 states for Februrary was 41.2 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 7.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. The winter as a whole (December to February) was 3.7 degrees Fahrenheit above average.

The only state reporting widespread below-average temperatures was Washington, with slightly below to near average readings in Oregon, Northern California, northern Idaho and Montana.

By contrast, 16 states, stretching from Texas up the Mississippi Valley to the Midwest, New York and the central Atlantic Coast, were record warm. Three states, including Colorado, reported their all-time warmest minimum average temperatures, in line with global warming trends showing nighttimes heating faster than days.

According to the report, there were 11,743 daily warm temperature records broken or tied, compared to 418 daily cold records. Of those, 1,151 daily records also broke the warmest temperature record ever observed during February, compared to just 2 cold records.

Read the full State of the Climate report here: https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/news/national-climate-201702.

The U.S. February temperatures are in line with the rest of world, according to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, which reported earlier this week that the average global temperature for February was the second-warmest on record.

Autumn was exceptionally warm across the U.S.

Record and near-record readings from coast to coast

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All 48 contiguous states reported above average temperatures for the fall of 2016.

Staff Report

November 2016’s average temperature across the U.S. was 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, making it the second-warmest on record, behind 1999. According to the latest monthly update from the National Centers for Environmental Information, November is warming at a rate of 6.6 degrees Fahrenheit per century. Only January has been warming faster, at a rate of 10.5 degrees Fahrenheit per century.

Idaho, North Dakota and Washington were record warm in November. Every state in the Lower 48 experienced an average temperature that above average. North Dakota’s average temperature was 12.8 degrees above normal, nearly 2 degrees above the previous record set in 1999. In the West, 15 states reported their second or third warmest November reading on record. Continue reading “Autumn was exceptionally warm across the U.S.”

Sunday set: Winter, from the vault

The colder the better!

A quick flashback set featuring winter scenes from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It’s not always that easy to get motivated for a photo session when it’s below freezing outside, but it’s always worth it when you do, because, well, there are some things that you can only see in winter — delicate ice filaments forming on the surface of a creek that somehow manages to keep flowing through sub-zero air, or a winter storm clearing just in time to give way to the warm orange glow of sunrise. And it’s always fun to take a look at the structure of ice. So don’t put away your camera when the weather gets chilly. Just make sure your batteries are fully charged

Skiing heals!

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Temerity turns, Aspen, Colorado. Photo by @the_beerwyn.

Turns with a ski buddy soften scarred heart

By Bob Berwyn

*Author’s note -this essay was originally published Feb. 26, 2007 on New West.

It’s a mid-winter meltdown here in the Colorado High Country. After a string of seemingly endless powder days that lasted through most of January and the early part of February, the sun is out, the roadside berms are melting. And – shhhhh, don’t tell anyone – despite ski reports touting packed powder, the snow is transitioning at our local ski areas, even turning to (Gasp!) hardpack in places.

None of that stops my friend Dave from making the annual 1,000-mile trek from his home near Lodi, California, where he grows grapes and makes wine when he’s not busy as a volunteer patroller at Heavenly Valley. After all, it’s not just about the snow, it’s about a 20-year ski friendship born on the slopes, a bond that’s in part sustained by our mutual passion for sliding down snow-covered mountains. Continue reading “Skiing heals!”

April storms boost Colorado snowpack

Much of West reports record-fast meltdown under El Niño heat

Colorado snowpack May 1 2016
April storms boosted Colorado’s snowpack, with near average runoff and river flows expected during the spring and summer in most parts of the state.
Colorado snowpack map
Southern parts of Colorado have not had above average snowpack readings for several years in a row, which could be part of the “new normal” in the global warming era

Staff Report

April storms helped boost Colorado’s statewide snowpack to above average, but two river basins in the southern part of the state continue to report below normal readings.

The state’s mountain areas benefited the most from a series of wet, El Niño-fueled storms, bringing precipitation for the water year to average, according to Brian Domonkos, the Colorado snow survey supervisor for the USDA Natural Resources conservation service.

“At this time last year the water supply outlook was grim at best,” Domonkos said. “Colorado’s current snowpack and precipitation levels are right where we want to be this time of year. Elsewhere in the Western United States seasonal snowpack during 2016 succumbed to early spring warming and did not recover as Colorado did from recent storms,” he added. Continue reading “April storms boost Colorado snowpack”