Coyote Gulch outage: I’m heading over Kenosha Pass to Salida for the Colorado Central Magazine annual shindig

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Potluck at Ed and Martha Quillen’s place today for the annual get-together of friends and purveyors of Colorado Central Magazine.

I’ll see you tomorrow.

Forecast for the start of water year 2012: Dry across the U.S. southern tier including southeastern Colorado

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Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for the November precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday released its forecast for coming months, based on new observations that show La Nina will influence weather patterns. La Niña is a cooling trend in the Pacific Ocean that sends moisture to the northern tier of the United States, often causing drought in the southern plains…

“The evolving La Nina will shape this winter,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “There is a wild card, though. The erratic Arctic oscillation can generate strong shifts in the climate patterns that could overwhelm or amplify La Nina’s typical impacts.” The oscillation could cause wide swings in temperatures and precipitation patterns over the winter months, although it is impossible to predict when or where they will occur. The Arctic oscillation is always present and fluctuates between positive and negative phases. The negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation pushes cold air into the U.S. from Canada. The Arctic oscillation went strongly negative at times the last two winters, causing outbreaks of cold and snowy conditions in the U.S. such as the “snowmaggedon” storms of 2009-10 on the East Coast. Strong episodes typically last a few weeks and are difficult to predict more than one to two weeks in advance, according to NOAA.

Here’s the Prognostic Discussion For Monthly Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center. As is often the case with La Niña, Colorado is in an area that is hard to predict. From the discussion:

ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FAVORED FOR A LARGE AREA ACROSS THE SOUTHERN CENTRAL US, WITH AN EXTENSION INTO THE GREAT LAKES…

FOR REMAINING AREAS THAT ARE NOT HIGHLIGHTED, THERE ARE EQUAL CHANCES (EC) FOR BELOW, NEAR, AND ABOVE-NORMAL MEAN TEMPERATURE DURING THE PERIOD AS THERE WERE NO STRONG AND CONSISTENT CLIMATE SIGNALS AMONGST THE AVAILABLE FORECAST TOOLS IN THESE AREAS.

THE NOVEMBER MONTHLY PRECIPITATION OUTLOOK INDICATES ENHANCED PROBABILITIES FOR BELOW-MEDIAN PRECIPITATION FOR THE SOUTHWEST AND ACROSS TEXAS INTO THE SOUTHEAST…

FOR REMAINING AREAS THAT ARE NOT HIGHLIGHTED, THERE ARE EQUAL CHANCES (EC) FOR BELOW, NEAR, AND ABOVE-MEDIAN TOTAL PRECIPITATION DURING THE PERIOD AS THERE WERE NO STRONG AND CONSISTENT CLIMATE SIGNALS AMONGST THE AVAILABLE FORECAST TOOLS IN THESE AREAS.

Click through and check out the forecast. They link to a glossary for many of the terms used in the forecast.

Herschel Finds Oceans of Water in Disk of Nearby Star

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Here’s the release from NASA:

Using data from the Herschel Space Observatory, astronomers have detected for the first time cold water vapor enveloping a dusty disk around a young star. The findings suggest that this disk, which is poised to develop into a solar system, contains great quantities of water, suggesting that water-covered planets like Earth may be common in the universe. Herschel is a European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions.

Scientists previously found warm water vapor in planet-forming disks close to a central star. Evidence for vast quantities of water extending out into the cooler, far reaches of disks where comets take shape had not been seen until now. The more water available in disks for icy comets to form, the greater the chances that large amounts eventually will reach new planets through impacts.

“Our observations of this cold vapor indicate enough water exists in the disk to fill thousands of Earth oceans,” said astronomer Michiel Hogerheijde of Leiden Observatory in The Netherlands. Hogerheijde is the lead author of a paper describing these findings in the Oct. 21 issue of the journal Science.

The star with this waterlogged disk, called TW Hydrae, is 10 million years old and located about 175 light-years away from Earth, in the constellation Hydra. The frigid, watery haze detected by Hogerheijde and his team is thought to originate from ice-coated grains of dust near the disk’s surface. Ultraviolet light from the star causes some water molecules to break free of this ice, creating a thin layer of gas with a light signature detected by Herschel’s Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared, or HIFI.

“These are the most sensitive HIFI observations to date,” said Paul Goldsmith, NASA project scientist for the Herschel Space Observatory at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “It is a testament to the instrument builders that such weak signals can be detected.”

TW Hydrae is an orange dwarf star, somewhat smaller and cooler than our yellow-white sun. The giant disk of material that encircles the star has a size nearly 200 times the distance between Earth and the sun. Over the next few million years, astronomers believe matter within the disk will collide and grow into planets, asteroids and other cosmic bodies. Dust and ice particles will assemble as comets.

As the new solar system evolves, icy comets are likely to deposit much of the water they contain on freshly created worlds through impacts, giving rise to oceans. Astronomers believe TW Hydrae and its icy disk may be representative of many other young star systems, providing new insights on how planets with abundant water could form throughout the universe.

Herschel is a European Space Agency cornerstone mission launched in 2009, carrying science instruments provided by consortia of European institutes. NASA’s Herschel Project Office based at JPL contributed mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel’s three science instruments. The NASA Herschel Science Center, part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, supports the U.S. astronomical community. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

For NASA’s Herschel website, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/herschel and http://www.herschel.caltech.edu.

For ESA’s Herschel website, visit: http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Herschel/index.html.

More coverage from the National Journal (Kenneth Chamberlain):

NASA released evidence Thursday from the Herschel Space Observatory that a vast ocean of water vapor is enveloping a nearby disk of dust that surrounds a young star. Although scientists previously have found evidence of warm water near developing stars, this is the first time water vapor has been found out towards the cold edge of the star’s dust disk, which will eventually become planets. The water in this region may eventually form comets, which will rain down on young planets, seeding their future oceans.

So far there is no word of a pipeline project to bring the water to the Front Range.

The Park County Commissioners ink a $3 million deal with Colorado Open Lands, including a sediment study for the Middle and South forks of the South Platte and Taryall Creek

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From The Fairplay Flume (Lynda James):

In 2009, Colorado Open Lands completed a sediment assessment on watersheds of the Middle Fork and South Fork of the South Platte River and Tarryall Creek. The resulting map and report identified major sources of sedimentation and areas of the watersheds in need of restoration, mitigation and protection to reduce the effects of sedimentation. This year, the North Fork of the South Platte River watershed will be studied for sediment loads. All four watersheds are on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s watch list of streams and rivers impaired by sediment.

The North Fork assessment will cost $13,000. Of that, the Park County Land and Water Trust Fund will pay $3,500. The Colorado Water Conservation Board will pay $7,000, and Colorado Open Lands will provide $2,500 of in-kind costs for mapping and administration of the project. Other partners include the South Park Wetlands Focus Committee and EcoMetrics.

[Colorado Open Lands Director of Conservation Operations Dieter Erdmann] said that over the years, those in the business of river restoration have learned that the best management practices and also the most cost-effective way to maintain reduced sediment is to use natural vegetation instead of building structures in the riverbed.

More South Platte River basin coverage here.

Four Colorado irrigation districts receive federal dough to help control Colorado River basin salinity

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From the Associated Press (Catharine Tsai) via KJCT8.com:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Friday that when complete, the projects to line irrigation canals or place them into pipe should prevent more than 23,000 tons of salt from entering the river every year…

The Interior Department says Stewart Ditch and Reservoir Co. of Paonia was awarded $6 million. The Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association of Montrose is receiving $7.4 million. The Grand Valley Irrigation Co. of Grand Junction was awarded $2.8 million. Minnesota Canal and Reservoir Co. of Paonia was awarded $3.9 million.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.