Wednesday :: Apr 2, 2008

Drying Up


by Turkana

For no particular reason at all I'm going to occasionally post excerpts from random articles on global warming and climate change. I will usually offer them without comment. Some will be new reports, and some will be a month or two old. Just an accumulation of facts, for anyone who is interested...

Science Daily, on March 30:

The American West is heating up more rapidly than the rest of the world, according to a new analysis of the most recent federal government temperature figures. The news is especially bad for some of the nation’s fastest growing cities, which receive water from the drought-stricken Colorado River. The average temperature rise in the Southwest’s largest river basin was more than double the average global increase, likely spelling even more parched conditions.

“Global warming is hitting the West hard,” said Theo Spencer of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “It is already taking an economic toll on the region’s tourism, recreation, skiing, hunting and fishing activities. The speed of warming and mounting economic damage make clear the urgent need to limit global warming pollution.”

For the report, the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO) analyzed new temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for 11 western states. For the five-year period 2003-2007 the average temperature in the Colorado River Basin, which stretches from Wyoming to Mexico, was 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the historical average for the 20th Century. The temperature rise was more than twice the global average increase of 1.0 degree during the same period. The average temperature increased 1.7 degrees in the entire 11-state western region.

“We are seeing signs of the economic impacts throughout the West,” said study author Stephen Saunders of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization. “Since 2000 we have seen $2.7 billion in crop loss claims due to drought. Global warming is harming valuable commercial salmon fisheries, reducing hunting activity and revenues, and threatening shorter and less profitable seasons for ski resorts.”

The Colorado River Basin is in the throes of a record drought, shrinking water supplies for upwards of 30 million people in fast-growing Denver, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Diego. Most of the Colorado River’s flow comes from melting snow in the mountains of Wyoming, Utah and Wyoming. Climate scientists predict even more and drier droughts in the future as hotter temperatures reduce the snowpack and increase evaporation.

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