Category: Colorado

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.

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Sunday set: Farewell to ice

Frozen fountains …


Spring has come early to large parts of the Northern Hemisphere warming under a blanket of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, so it’s time to say goodbye to winter with some images celebrating icy creeks. These photos are from Colorado, a global warming hotspot, where the average temperature has increased faster than in any other state in recent years, compared to the previous 30-year meteorological period. This year the trend continued across much of the U.S. and other parts of the world that all reported record warmth during February. In mid-February, the thermometer reached 80 degrees at DIA for the first time ever. Heat waves scorched Australia and parts of South America, and parts of western Europe were also record- or near-record warm, including Austria, where the average countrywide temperature was 2.8 degrees Celsius above the long-term average, with a few individual stations setting all-time heat records for the month. You’ll probably still be able to enjoy frozen wintry scenes like this for a few more years, but if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t cut soon, many areas probably won’t see much winter weather by 2050. We need #climateaction now.

How will global warming affect Colorado River flows?

Water woes ahead for the Southwest

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The Colorado River will be hit hard by climate change. @bberwyn photo.

Even if precipitation stays the same or increases slightly in the next few decades, Colorado River flows are likely to dwindle due to increasing temperatures in the West. The projected warming in the 21st century could reduce flows by half a million acre feet per year, according to a new study to be published in the AGU journal Water Resources Research. Continue reading “How will global warming affect Colorado River flows?”

Global warming hampers post-fire forest regrowth in Colorado

‘We are seeing the initiation of a retreat of forests to higher elevations’

A June, 2011 wildfire in Keystone Gulch burned within a few hundred feet of vacation homes and full-time residences at the Colorado resort.
A June, 2011 wildfire in Keystone Gulch burned within a few hundred feet of vacation homes and full-time residences at the Colorado resort. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Global warming is likely one of the main factors that’s preventing some Colorado forests from regenerating after wildfires.

When they started studying eight wildfire sites that burned across 162,000 acres of low-elevation forests along the Front Range, University of Colorado Boulder researchers said they expected to see young trees popping up all over the place, but that’s not what they found.

There were no seedlings at all in 59 percent of the study plots and 83 percent showed a very low density of seedlings. Future warming and associated drought may hinder significant further recovery, the researchers concluded. Only 2 to 38 percent of plots surveyed, depending on the fire site, were considered stocked, or on their way to recovery. Continue reading “Global warming hampers post-fire forest regrowth in Colorado”

Sunday set: Mountain love

Go higher …


Time revisit a couple of favorite mountains scenes in the Summit Voice archives, and time to remember that global warming is going alter some mountain landscapes irrevocably, not it the far distant future, but within a few decades. For example, a new study shows how warming will alter basic soil chemistry by speeding up microbial activity and shifting the balance of key nutrients. This will displace some plants and probably eliminate others. And as much as we appreciate forested landscapes, climate change is driving the spread of tree-killing insects, as shown by the latest aerial survey of Colorado forests. Check out more environmental and nature photography from Summit Voice at our online gallery, or visit the Sunday Set archives.

Droughts and fires affecting Western U.S. air quality

New study tracks increase in summertime haze in Colorado wilderness

Summit County firefighters extinguish a small wildfire between Keystone and Montezuma late March, 2012.
Summit County, Colorado, firefighters extinguish a small wildfire between Keystone and Montezuma late March, 2012. A new University of Utah study suggests that more drought and wildfires will worsen air pollution in the high country of the West, even spreading to pristine wilderness areas. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Longer and hotter droughts and wildfires are polluting the once clear blue skies of the high country in the West, according to new research from the University of Utah.

The study, published this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters, found a link between the severity of drought in the Intermountain West and summertime air quality. Climate projections suggest that drought and wildfire risk will continue to increase in coming decades.

“If you take that into the future, we’re going to see significant hazing of the West,” said¬†University of Utah atmospheric scientist Gannet Hallar. Continue reading “Droughts and fires affecting Western U.S. air quality”

Morning photo: Year in review

Winter scenes

I covered some ground this year with Summit Voice and all around the web, with diverse reporting and photojournalism from two continents, and I’ll post links to some of the top stories of 2016 in the next few days, but we also wanted to take a look back at the past year in photos, starting with a few favorites from early last winter. My favorite shot of the year is the shadow silhouette at Red Rocks, taken at dawn, Christmas morning. If you have sharp eyes, you’ll be able to pick out some of Colorado’s best ski areas in the monochrome shot taken from a commercial airliner headed west from Denver. Out weekly photo sets are here, and you can also check out our online gallery here. We also closed out the year with a fine environmental photo essay of the cryosphere for Pacific Standard.