Tag: Rocky Mountains

Climate: Pikas disappearing from marginal habitat

New study documents population declines in Great Basin

Colorado pika
A Quandary Peak pika enjoys some sunny weather on a rocky ledge in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

U.S. Geological Survey scientists have filled in another piece in the pika puzzle, finding that changes in distribution of populations of the tiny mammals are mainly influenced by climatic factors. The new study, published in The Journal of Mammalogy, helps show how global warming will affect the species.

Several previous research efforts have been inconclusive, and one study from Colorado suggests that pikas are holding their own in the highest reaches of the central and southern Rocky Mountains. But the new study, conducted in 2014 and 2015 at 910 sites, showed  widespread reduction in pika range in three mountainous regions including the Great Basin, southern Utah and northeastern California.

Another recent study that included National Park Service researchers tried to project where pikas will be able to persist in places like Rocky Mountain National Park, Crater Lake and Yellowstone National Park. More information is available on the NPS Pikas in Peril website. Continue reading “Climate: Pikas disappearing from marginal habitat”

Experts project below average Rocky Mountain wildfire season

Alaska, Southwest could see early season forest fires

spring wildfire outlook rocky mountains
Experts say they aren’t expecting a severe wildfire season in the Rocky Mountain region.
Summit County wildfire
An unusual high elevation early season wildfire burns near Keystone, Colorado in 2012. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

April precipitation may have helped dampen the potential for a severe wildfire season in parts of the Rocky Mountain region and in the adjacent Great Plains, according to a new outlook from the interagency Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center.

The projections is based on various seasonal indicators including precipitation, snowpack average, temperatures, wind, plant and soil moisture, and the timing of green-up. These indices support a below average to near average fire season in 2016.

“The timing of the recent precipitation events, primarily in April, has been critical to assure the availability of soil moisture and subsequent green-up, which diminishes the threat of an early onset of fire season,” said RMACC fire meteorologist Tim Mathewson. Continue reading “Experts project below average Rocky Mountain wildfire season”

Morning photo: Got light?

Mountain joy!

You can think of this handful of mountain shots from the Summit Voice archives as bowl of eyecandy on this Saturday. From winter wave clouds at sunrise to summer rainbows, the brilliance of mountain light is always something special. Visit our online gallery for more images from the Colorado high country.

Sunday set: Winter dreams

From the archives

There’s pure magic in the deep, cold heart of winter, especially during the golden hour, when the rising or setting sun can be playful, mysterious and perplexing. The images in this set capture a bit of that magic, but there’s so much more. #getoutside #explore and don’t forget your camera! If you want to support independent journalism, visit our online gallery to buy a fine art print, with proceeds supporting Summit Voice.

Climate: New study documents Rocky Mountain meltdown

Changes will affect regional water supplies

Global warming is fundamentally changing Colorado’s high alpine ecosystems. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Long-term data from a monitoring station high in the Colorado Rockies is showing remarkable signs of climate change, according to new findings published a special issue of the journal Plant Ecology and Diversity.

The research, conducted west of Boulder, along Niwot Ridge and Green Lakes Valley, shows that the only glacier in the area has been thinning by about three feet per year during the past 15 years.

And careful surveys of alpine vegetation shows that, at one location, the plant community has changed dramatically, with a significant increase in alpine shrubs above treeline in recent decades, according to said ecologist Mark Williams, of the University of Colorado Boulder Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.

“Places that once harbored magnificent wildflowers are being replaced by shrubs, particularly willows,” Williams said in a press release from the National Science foundation, which helped fund the new study. Continue reading “Climate: New study documents Rocky Mountain meltdown”

Warmer climate means more fires — any questions?

More wildfires ahead as world warms up. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

Study ties ancient wildfire surge in the Rockies to warmer climate phase

Staff Report

Offering yet more evidence that the West’s recent spate of megafires is linked with a warming climate, University of Wyoming researchers showed that a warm spell about 1,000 years ago also spurred more blazes. The study suggests that large fires will continue to increase as a result of a warming climate.

“What our research shows is that even modest regional warming trends, like we are currently experiencing, can cause exceptionally large areas in the Rockies to be burned by wildfires,” says John Calder, a Ph.D. candidate in UW’s Program in Ecology and the Department of Geology and Geophysics. Continue reading “Warmer climate means more fires — any questions?”

Morning photo: Mountain colors

Dawn patrol … and more

FRISCO —What could be better than a rainbow stretched across the jagged skyline of the Tenmile Range? Maybe the scattered rays of the morning sun coming up over the Continental Divide, or the vibrant buzz of a bumblebee perched on purple thistle, or deepening purple and orange clouds over Frisco’s landmark Peak One. It’s tough to choose, that’s for sure, so I’m glad I don’t have to pick just one favorite image from this week’s photo wanderings in Summit County. If you love these shots, check out the online Summit Voice gallery, where a purchase goes a long way toward supporting independent Colorado environmental journalism.