CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory presents ‘Headwater Rivers and the Carbon Cycle’ October 28


From email from the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory (Laurie Richards):

Friday, October 28, 2011, 11:00 AM – 12 noon, Third Floor Conference Rooms A302-304, Natural and Environmental Sciences Building

Recent high-profile papers have highlighted the role that rivers play in the global carbon cycle. Of the terrestrial carbon delivered to rivers, less than half reaches the oceans. The remainder is returned to the atmosphere or sequestered in sediments. The balance among these outputs depends on how long carbon is retained in various storage sites along a river. Headwater rivers are particularly important in that they receive the majority of terrestrial carbon inputs from soil, vegetation, and fossil carbon in sedimentary bedrock. Despite recognizing the importance of riverine processes in the carbon cycle, many existing studies of carbon dynamics treat physical processes in rivers as a black box, focusing only on inputs and outputs rather than mechanisms within the river network. This talk uses the example of headwater rivers in Rocky Mountain National Park to examine the magnitude and spatial distribution of carbon stored in floodplain sediments, coarse organic material on the floodplain and in the stream, and living biomass on the floodplain. We partition river segments into distinct process domains as a function of their elevation and valley geometry.

We find that laterally unconfined valley segments above the Pleistocene glacial moraines store disproportionately large amounts of carbon relative to their percentage of the total river length. This has important management implications in that the biotic drivers that facilitate and maintain this carbon storage have been progressively lost over the past few decades.

Berthoud: Next Colorado Water Conservation Board meeting November 15-16


From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board:

Notice is hereby given that a meeting of the CWCB will be held on Tuesday November 15, 2011, commencing at 8:00 a.m. and continuing through Wednesday, November 16th, 2011. This meeting will be held at the Northern Water Conservancy District Offices located at 220 Water Ave, Berthoud, CO 80513.

The CWCB Board will also meet for a workshop regarding the Colorado River Water Availability Study and the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement on Monday November 14, 2011 at the same location.

More CWCB coverage here.

State of the Rockies Project scores $175,000 from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to assess attitudes about conservation in six Western states


Here’s the release from Colorado College (Leslie Weddell):

Colorado College’s State of the Rockies Project has received a $175,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to conduct a poll assessing attitudes toward conservation in six Western states. 

The “Colorado College State of the Rockies 2012 Conservation in the West Poll” to be conducted in January 2012 expands on work that was begun in January 2011 with the first-ever such poll, when voters in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming were canvassed in a bipartisan poll. This year voters in Arizona also will be included.

Two polling firms, one Republican, the other Democrat, will use a bipartisan approach in developing topics to be covered and the wording of questions. Together, they will conduct a total of 2,400 randomly selected interviews, attempting to reach people via land lines and cell phones. The poll will be conducted in Spanish as well as English, and the firms used will be the same as last year, Public Opinion Strategies (a Republican firm), and Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (a Democratic firm).

Survey results will be released by Colorado College’s State of the Rockies Project, which, for the past nine years, has worked to increase public understanding of vital issues affecting the Rockies through annual report cards, lectures, forums and other activities.

Key findings in last year’s poll included:

– 77 percent of respondents believe that stringent environmental standards and a strong economy can co-exist.

– 81 percent believe environmental laws should not be relaxed for oil, gas and mining companies.

– Three-quarters view wind and solar power as job creators and better energy sources than fossil fuels.

-Respondents overwhelmingly support paying up to $10 more a month for renewable energy use.

“These annual polls are becoming a valuable research tool to measure attitudes and opinions over time for the Rocky Mountain states,” says Walt Hecox, faculty director for the Rockies Project.

The focus of the 2011-12 State of the Rockies Project is “The Colorado River Basin- Agendafor Use, Restoration, and Sustainability for the Next Generation,” and seeks to bring a new perspective to the debates surrounding the multitude of issues and conflicts in the river basin.

The project began with a coordinated focus on the Colorado River Basin during summer 2011, conducted by student researchers. The results of this research are then coordinated with monthly talks by experts throughout the academic year, and the project culminates with a major conference in April 2012 and the publication of the 2012 State of the Rockies Report Card.

All State of the Rockies events are free and open to the public. More information about the project and the Conservation in the West polling effort are available at http://www2.coloradocollege.edu/stateoftherockies/

More conservation coverage here.

Climate change news: The clock is ticking on the opportunity to keep warming below 2C


There was a bunch of news on the climate change front last week including this article from Richard Black writing for the BBC. He highlights the efforts by the leaders of some 200 companies from around the world to get their government to act to reduce carbon dioxide emmissions. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

The 2C Challenge, co-ordinated by the Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group, says that climate change puts society’s future prosperity at risk.

But the window to keep global warming below 2C has “almost closed”, it warns.

Companies signing up include UK retailer Tesco, energy provider EDF, electronics company Philips, chemicals giant Unilever, eBay and Rolls-Royce.

The communique is published six weeks before governments of 192 countries convene in Durban, South Africa, for the annual UN climate summit.

More coverage from the Environmental News Service. From the article:

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change said, “Governments have clearly signaled their intention to move towards a low-carbon future. To get there fast enough will require huge new investments in clean energy. This is the only way to guarantee the long-term sustainability and security of the world economic system and the stability of returns from global investment, a major part of which is directly linked to the pensions and life insurance of ordinary people around the world.”

“The statement from major private sector investors will help to give governments both the confidence and the knowledge to put the right incentives and mechanisms in place,” said Figueres.

Frank Pegan, who chairs IGCC Australia/New Zealand said, “Individual nations will be in a stronger position to attract private capital to stimulate their economies by implementing clear and credible climate policies. As and when governments around the world show leadership and reduce policy risk around climate change for investors, the investment flows will follow.”[…]

Dr. Wolfgang Engshuber, who chairs the Advisory Council of the Principles for Responsible Investment, said, “Climate change will transform economies throughout the world, creating new opportunities for investors. However, these will gain traction only if governments play their part in laying down well-designed and effective climate change policies. Without such a supportive regulatory environment, we will not see the level of investment that is needed to transform the world’s energy supplies and transport systems.”

Physicist Richard Muller led the project at Berkeley that compiled more than a billion temperature records dating back to the 1800s. The project report concluded that the planet has warmed 1C since the 1950s. Here’s a report from the Guardian. From the article:

The Berkeley Earth project compiled more than a billion temperature records dating back to the 1800s from 15 sources around the world and found that the average global land temperature has risen by around 1C since the mid-1950s.

This figure agrees with the estimate arrived at by major groups that maintain official records on the world’s climate, including Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), and the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, with the University of East Anglia, in the UK.

“My hope is that this will win over those people who are properly sceptical,” Richard Muller, a physicist and head of the project, said.

“Some people lump the properly sceptical in with the deniers and that makes it easy to dismiss them, because the deniers pay no attention to science. But there have been people out there who have raised legitimate issues.”

Muller sought to cool the debate over climate change by creating the largest open database of temperature records, with the aim of producing a transparent and independent assessment of global warming.

More on Muller from The Los Angeles Times (Geoff Mohan). From the article:

UC Berkeley physicist Richard Muller and others were looking at the so-called urban heat island effect — the notion that because more urban temperature stations are included in global temperature data sets than are rural ones, the global average temperature was being skewed upward because these sites tend to retain more heat. Hence, global warming trends are exaggerated.

Using data from such urban heat islands as Tokyo, they hypothesized, could introduce “a severe warming bias in global averages using urban stations.”

In fact, the data trend was “opposite in sign to that expected if the urban heat island effect was adding anomalous warming to the record. The small size, and its negative sign, supports the key conclusion of prior groups that urban warming does not unduly bias estimates of recent global temperature change.”

More coverage from The Economist. From the article:

There are three compilations of mean global temperatures going back over 150 years from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and a collaboration between Britain’s Met Office and the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (known as Hadley CRU). All suggest a similar pattern of warming amounting to about 0.9°C over land in the past half century. Yet this consistency masks large uncertainties in the raw data and doubts about their methodologies. But a new study of current data and analysis by Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature offers strong support to the existing temperature compilations. The results, described in four papers still undergoing peer review, are released on October 20th. It estimates that over the past 50 years the land surface warmed by 0.911°C: a mere 2% less than NOAA’s estimate.

Meanwhile, Andrew Revkin laments the melting away of skeptics talking points due to Muller’s research in the New York Times. From the article:

Richard Muller, a noted Berkeley physicist who’s been a strident critic of climate campaigners, has released a much-anticipated new package of studies, along with all of his team’s data and methods, that powerfully challenges one of the prime talking points of pundits and politicians trying to avoid a shift away from fossil fuels. The assertion has been that the world hasn’t really warmed — just the thermometers — due to expanding asphalt and concrete around cities and other locations housing weather stations.

Revkin is pointing to this blog post from Anthony Watts that stresses that Muller’s research has not been peer reviewed yet. Watts writes:

Readers may recall this post last week where I complained about being put in a uncomfortable quandary by an author of a new paper. Despite that, I chose to honor the confidentiality request of the author Dr. Richard Muller, even though I knew that behind the scenes, they were planning a media blitz to MSM outlets. In the past few days I have been contacted by James Astill of the Economist, Ian Sample of the Guardian, and Leslie Kaufman of the New York Times. They have all contacted me regarding the release of papers from BEST today.

There’s only one problem: Not one of the BEST papers have completed peer review.

Readers may want to thank the Koch Foundation for funding part of the study. Here’s a report from Brad Plummer writing for The Washington Post. From the article:

Muller’s stated aims were simple. He and his team would scour and re-analyze the climate data, putting all their calculations and methods online. Skeptics cheered the effort. “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong,” wrote Anthony Watts, a blogger who has criticized the quality of the weather stations in the United Statse that provide temperature data. The Charles G. Koch Foundation even gave Muller’s project $150,000 — and the Koch brothers, recall, are hardly fans of mainstream climate science.

So what are the end results? Muller’s team appears to have confirmed the basic tenets of climate science.

Here’s a report about the world’s poor and the need to mitigate the effects of climate change on their population by relocating them. From the article:

The Migration and Global Environmental Change Foresight Report is the most detailed study carried out on the effect of flooding, drought and rising sea levels on human migration patterns over the next 50 years.

The government’s chief scientist, Professor Sir John Beddington, who commissioned the study, said that environmental change would hit the world’s poorest the hardest and that millions of them would inadvertently migrate toward, rather than away from, areas that are most vulnerable.

“[These people] will be trapped in dangerous conditions and unable to be moved to safety,” he said.

Finally, here’s a report about the uniqueness of current warming that is occurring in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres — not seen over the past 20,000 years in the geologic record — from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit County Citizens Voice. From the article:

“What is happening today is unique from a historical geological perspective,” said Svante Björck, a climate researcher at Lund University.

Björck directly addressed the argument that climate has always changed in cycles by showing that, in the past, when when, for example, the temperature rises in one hemisphere, it falls or remains unchanged in the other. “My study shows that, apart from the larger-scale developments, such as the general change into warm periods and ice ages, climate change has previously only produced similar effects on local or regional level,” says Svante Björck.

To make his findings, Björck examined global climate archives, searching for evidence that any of the climate events that have occurred since the end of the last Ice Age 20,000 years ago generated similar effects on both the northern and southern hemispheres simultaneously. He used the Little Ice Age as an example, explaining that, while Europe experienced some of its coldest centuries, there is no evidence of corresponding simultaneous temperature changes and effects in the southern hemisphere.

Climate records, in the form of core samples taken from marine and lake sediments and glacier ice, serve as a record of how temperature, precipitation and concentration of atmospheric gases and particles have varied over the course of history, and are full of similar examples.

More climate change coverage here.

Prairie Waters Project Receives Project Management Institute’s Prestigious 2011 PMI Project of the Year Award


Here’s the release from the Project Management Institute via Market Watch:

Aurora, Colorado, USA has been challenged by decades of rapid population growth combined with limited opportunities to expand its water supply in an arid environment. This already significant challenge was exacerbated in 2002 by severe, multi-year drought, requiring the city and its water managers to quickly design and implement a long-term solution in response to future water shortage conditions. The Prairie Waters Project, led by CH2M HILL, marked one of the largest water-related public works projects in Colorado in more than 35 years. Its exemplary innovation and completion, two months ahead of schedule and US$100 million under budget, has made it the 2011 recipient of the Project Management Institute’s prestigious PMI(R) Project of the Year Award.

“An urgent water need pushed the city to take an innovative look at ways to achieve not only meeting the community’s water needs quickly, but to preserve the city’s high standards for water quality,” said Larry Catalano, manager of capital projects for the City of Aurora. “The significant complexities of the project included stringent cost constraints, stakeholder involvement, environmental restrictions, and the pressure to execute a project on an exceptionally fast schedule. The project team consistently went above and beyond the call of duty and delivered ahead of schedule and under budget. We are honored that PMI recognized the hard work, collaboration and dedication of the entire team that worked to create the Prairie Waters Project.”

The Prairie Waters Project succeeded in spite of extreme environmental challenges. With only a nine-month supply of water available for a population of approximately 300,000 at that time, city leaders and CH2M HILL were tasked with identifying a sustainable, long-term water supply to protect against future droughts. After reviewing over 50 possible scenarios, the city identified the Prairie Waters Project as the fastest, most cost-efficient and most sustainable way to deliver more than 10,000 acre feet of new water to the city by the end of 2010.

The success of the project, originally projected to cost $854 million, resulted in a newly constructed pipeline, pump stations and a treatment plant that will ultimately deliver up to 50,000 acre feet, meeting Aurora’s needs through 2030. Eight significant stakeholder agreements, 145 land parcels and 44 permits were acquired for approval and completion of the project, which took six years to complete and spanned nearly 40 miles in length. Through the use of skilled project personnel, the rigorous application of project management standards, processes and techniques, and the use of earned value management (EVM) techniques, the PWP was able to cut $100 million from the budget in the design phase without compromising quality and safety, bringing the construction budget to $754 million. Value engineering techniques enabled the team to fast-track the project two months ahead of schedule and an additional $100 million below this amended budget. The project was delivered in October 2010 at just under $653 million.

“The City of Aurora’s Prairie Waters Project clearly illustrates how project management standards and practices, properly applied, can help deliver a solution that is transformative to a community,” said Mark A. Langley, President and CEO of PMI. “This project demonstrates best practice solutions that show agility and effective stakeholder engagement. PMI commends Aurora Water and the entire project team for these outstanding results.”

Aurora Water was presented with the 2011 PMI Project of the Year Award on Saturday, 22 October 2011 during the PMI Awards Ceremony at the PMI(R) Global Congress 2011–North America in Dallas, Texas.

More Prairie Waters coverage here and here.

The Fountain Creek Corridor Restoration Master Plan is hot off the press from the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The plan builds on past studies of Fountain Creek by recommending specific actions and strategies for reaches south of Colorado Springs to the confluence with the Arkansas River in Pueblo. The plan includes the 100-year floodplain for about 46 miles of the creek. The plan is the completion of efforts to improve Fountain Creek that began in 2007 with negotiations between Colorado Springs and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District. The Fountain Creek district signed a partnership with those entities in 2009 to complete the plan…

A total of $1 million has been spent on the plan, which was financed equally by Colorado Springs and the Lower Ark district. THK Associates was the primary contractor. “This plan defines the elements that are included in a healthy reach of the creek versus an unhealthy reach of the creek,” said Larry Small, executive director of the Fountain Creek district. “The plan establishes a series of restoration techniques, including conservation, that are intended to be the toolbox of techniques used as a part of revitalizing Fountain Creek.”

The plan notes that most of the land in the unincorporated areas along Fountain Creek is privately owned, and generally healthy. The problem areas in Fountain and Pueblo, on mostly public land, receive the most attention. To improve the health of the stream, the plan recommends bank restoration, side detention ponds, wetlands and removal of invasive species that choke out other vegetation. The plan also seeks ways to connect communities to Fountain Creek to treat it as an asset rather than a problem…

The U.S. Geological Survey, in connection with the district, is studying the impact of a dam or series of dams on Fountain Creek. Results from that study are expected next year.

Comments on the corridor master plan may be made to fountainck dist@aol.com.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.