Tag: Colorado Plateau

Southern Colorado Plateau has dried 17 percent since 1985

New study projects impacts for world’s drylands

Hikers enjoying the view at Colorado National Monument, near Grand Junction. Researchers say recreation economies in the world’s drier zones are likely to take a big hit from global warming in the next few decades. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Global warming is bad enough on its own for the world’s drylands, but when you add in the impacts of population growth, development and the increasing demand for water, the future looks downright grim.

The end result will be conditions that are detrimental to the recreation economy, wildlife habitat, water availability and other resources in hyper-arid landscapes, according to a recent paper published in Ecosphere. Drylands are of concern because broad-scale changes in these systems have the potential to affect 36 percent of the world’s human population. Continue reading “Southern Colorado Plateau has dried 17 percent since 1985”


Morning photo: Flyover

West Coast-Denver flight a great geology lesson

Salty Mono Lake is a unique inland sea in eastern California, and an enduring symbol of success for environmental advocacy, activism and education.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — I’m one of those annoying airplane passengers who always wants a window seat. If I don’t have one, I may be the guy next to you who leans across your lap to catch a glimpse of a familiar or exotic landscape from 35,000 feet up. I’m pretty sure I’ve always been that way, even as a kid, when on family trips, I stared out of the plane window for hours.

Even on trips across the ocean, the ever-changing patterns of sunlight reflecting on the sea and shifting cloud bands hypnotizes me. And if I’m flying over territory that I’ve explored on the ground, so much the better. It’s always fun to spot a familiar landmark from a new perspective.

So on a recent flight from the Bay Area back to Denver, it was a gift to fly over Mono Lake, where I spent some formative years learning about western water issues and environmental advocacy from the incredible grassroots Mono Lake Committee. Later in the flight, the widespread landscape alteration from oil and gas drilling in the intermountain West became apparent, along with slices of untouched Utah wilderness and national park lands.

In this series, the stark light of mid-day and the muted colors of winter paint a subdued picture of the interior West, especially through the filters of my iPhone app. All these images were shot with an iPhone 4S. Continue reading “Morning photo: Flyover”

Morning photo: Travel to Colorado’s hidden arches

A grand Meeander

A view of West Rim Arch as one first sees it.
Photos and text by Stan Wagon

The area southwest of Grand Junction offers immense opportunity for exploring interesting sandstone features. Taking a break from the endless snow in Summit County, some friends and I spent a week in the area starting April 27, 2011, the main goal being to hike to some remote arches. But we could not leave the snow behind entirely and spent one day skiing the famed east face of Mt. Tukuhnikivatz east of Moab.

Jonathan Kriegel and I needed perseverance and tools (ice ax, crampons, and a whippet) to climb the east ridge. While the descent was in skiable, but not great, snow conditions, it was overall a fanatastic day and very satisfying to reach this summit towering over eight thousand feet above Moab. Read about skiing the La Sals at Wagon’s website.

Back to sandstone, we first returned to West Rim Arch on the west side of Rattlesnake Canyon. We had visited the top of it last year, but this time we entered the canyon quite directly and contoured around to the bottom of the arch, which has a completely different feel than the top. One can climb right inside the arch for an intriguing view.

Global warming: Desert dust storms to get worse

U.S. Geological Survey, UCLA study shows loss of vegetation in the Southwest will lead to more frequent and intense dust storms

Desert dust shows up in the snowpack at Loveland Pass, Colorado.
Dust storms like this one captured by a NASA satellite are predicted to get worse as global warming kills desert vegetation.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Desert dust blowing from the Southwest into the Rockies has been implicated in everything from earlier snowmelt and air quality violations to causing avalanches.

A new study shows  the storms more frequent and intense as global warming kills desert vegetation.

A research team from the U.S. Geological Survey and UCLA looked at climate, vegetation and soil measurements collected over a 20-year period in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in southeastern Utah. Long-term data indicated that perennial vegetation in grasslands and some shrublands declined with temperature increases. The study then used these soil and vegetation measurements in a model to project future wind erosion. Continue reading “Global warming: Desert dust storms to get worse”