Combined impacts of current and future dust deposition and regional warming on Colorado River Basin snow dynamics and hydrology
The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people in seven western states and two countries and to 5.5 million irrigated acres. The river has long been overallocated. Climate models project runoff losses of 5–20% from the basin by mid-21st century due to human-induced climate change. Recent work has shown that decreased snow albedo from anthropogenic dust loading to the CO mountains shortens the duration of snow cover by several weeks relative to conditions prior to western expansion of the US in the mid-1800s, and advances peak runoff at Lees Ferry, Arizona, by an average of 3 weeks. Read the full article at Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.
Deems, J.S., T. H. Painter, J. J. Barsugli, J. Belnap, and B. Udall, 2013. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 17, 4401-4413.
A skillful early detection and warning system for severe and/or abrupt climate change would benefit both adaptation and preparedness. But what would a severe climate change early warning system look like? Important characteristics of dangerous climate shifts, like rate of onset, intensity, spatial distribution, and predictability, are little known but are the subject of growing research efforts. Some ad hoc forms of climate early warnings are already emerging, and attention now to lessons, positive and negative, from existing hazard warning systems would seem prudent. Read the full article at Weather and Climate Extremes.
Travis, W. R., 2013. Weather and Climate Extremes, October 30.
Planning for an Uncertain Future: Climate Change Sensitivity Assessment toward Adaptation Planning for Public Water Supply
Assessing climate change risk to municipal water supplies is often conducted by hydrologic modeling specific to local watersheds and infrastructure to ensure that outputs are compatible with existing planning frameworks and processes. This study leverages the modeling capacity of an operational National Weather Service River Forecast Center to explore the potential impacts of future climate-driven hydrologic changes on factors important to planning at the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities (SLC). Read the full article at Earth Interactions.
Bardsley, T., A. Wood, M. Hobbins, T. Kirkham, L. Briefer, J. Niermeyer, and S. Burian, 2013. Earth Interactions, Volume 17, Issue 23, 1-26, October.
This paper provides an overview of climate change impacts on tribal water resources and the subsequent cascading effects on the livelihoods and cultures of American Indians and Alaska Natives living on tribal lands in the U.S. A hazards and vulnerability framework for understanding these impacts is first presented followed by context on the framework components, including climate, hydrologic, and ecosystem changes and tribe-specific vulnerability factors, which when combined with hazards lead to impacts. Read the full article at Climatic Change.
Cozzetto, K., K. Chief, K. Dittmer, M. Brubaker, R. Gough, K. Souza, F. Ettawageshik, S. Wotkyns, S. Opitz-Stapleton, S. Duren, and P. Chavan, 2013. Climatic Change, Volume 120, Issue 3, 569-584.
New study: Dust, warming portend dry future for the Colorado River
Reducing the amount of desert dust swept onto snowy Rocky Mountain peaks could help Western water managers deal with the challenges of a warmer future, according to a new study. With support from WWA and NASA’s Interdisciplinary Science program, CIRES’ Jeffrey Deems and his colleagues examined the combined effects of regional warming and dust on the Colorado River, which is fed primarily by snowmelt. During recent years, desert dust has been settling thick and dark on the snowpack in the northern Rocky Mountain headwaters of the Colorado River, and snowpack is melting out as many as six weeks earlier than it did in the 1800s, according to the new study. See the CIRES Press Release.
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy mentions new WWA study on Twitter
The official twitter account of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy mentioned WWA lead author Tim Bardsley's new study on climate adaptation planning for public water supply in Salt Lake City. See the CIRES Press Release.
New WWA study: Rising temperatures challenge Salt Lake City’s water supply
For every 1 degree Fahrenheit of warming in the Salt Lake City region, water flow to the city will drop 1.8-6.5%. That's the conclusion from a new WWA-led climate analysis that offers a window into what other Western cities will face in a warming world. With help from this climate analysis, Salt Lake managers are preparing for a warmer future. See press coverage in the Salt Lake Tribune, Boulder Daily Camera, and Utah Public Radio.
WWA's Klaus Wolter wins Governor's award for high-impact research
Congratulations to WWA's Klaus Wolter, in the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, one of four to win the 2013 Governor's Award for High-Impact Research. Wolter was honored for his work in sustainability, specifically for his research into connections between the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and drought, and applying his expertise to support water resource management and drought planning in the state of Colorado and throughout the Southwest. A short video about his work is here.
WWA releases preliminary assessment of September 2013 flooding along Colorado's Front Range
Western Water Assessment, along with the NOAA ESRL Physical Science Division and the CSU Colorado Climate Center, just released a preliminary assessment of the weather and climate context of recent flooding along Colorado's Front Range. This assessment compares the precipitation and flooding to historic events, explains the large-scale weather patterns responsible for the rains, and discusses connections to climate change. Click here to watch a presentation about the information in this assessment