CWCB: Climate Change in Colorado — A Synthesis to Support Water Resources Management and Adaptation

Colorado, United States, and Global Temperatures, 1895-2012 via the Colorado Water Conservation Board
Colorado, United States, and Global Temperatures, 1895-2012 via the Colorado Water Conservation Board

From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Ben Wade):

Public comments will be accepted March 12- April 11, 2014 (COB). The draft report has been posted to the CWCB website. A comment form is also available on the website to download. Both documents can be found at http://cwcb.state.co.us/environment/climate-change/Pages/Draft2014ClimateChangeReport.aspx

This report, an update of a 2008 report by the same name, is a synthesis of climate science relevant for management and planning of Colorado’s water. It focuses on observed climate trends, climate modeling, and projections of temperature, precipitation, snowmelt, and runoff. Climate projections are reported for the mid-21st century, because this time frame is being used for development of adaptation strategies by the state of Colorado and other water entities.

This report summarizes findings from peer-reviewed global and regional studies, and presents new Colorado-specific analyses and graphics derived from existing datasets. The state is home to many experts in climate and hydrology, and this report also draws from ongoing work by these scientists.

Questions and written feedback regarding the report and its contents can be directed to Jeff Lukas, lead author, by email at lukas@colorado.edu or by phone at 303-497-6212 by close of business April 11, 2014.

Click here to read the draft report. From the executive summary:

This report is a synthesis of climate science relevant for management and planning forColorado’s water resources. It focuses on observed climate trends, climate modeling, and projections of temperature, precipitation, snowmelt, and runoff. Climate projections are reported for the mid‐21st century because this time frame is being used for development of adaptation strategies by the state of Colorado and other water entities. The information in the report is also applicable to other sectors beyond those connected to water.

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Climate experts say it’s about to get warmer —probably much warmer — in Colorado. A draft state climate report released this week for public comment shows that Colorado has warmed by 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 50 years. By the middle of this century, summer temperatures will be higher than in all but the hottest years, with another 2.5 to 5.5 degrees of warming expected.

The report, aimed at helping resource managers prepare for changing conditions, found no long-term trends in annual precipitation, even with the relatively dry period in the early 2000s. Annual observed precipitation changes the past few decades are within the range of natural variability, according to the report…

One big question mark with implications for water management is the effect of global warming in the mountains. Some recent research suggests greater warming at high elevations as global temperatures increase, but there’s a lack of data from sites above 10,000 feet in Colorado. Data gaps point to the need for better climate monitoring, some experts say, warning that federal budget cuts could threaten existing monitoring programs.

From the Associated Press via the Aurora Sentinel:

The report, released Wednesday, says most projections indicate less snow will accumulate in Colorado’s mountains because warming trends are causing it to melt earlier in the season.

The report was prepared for the Colorado Water Conservation Board by the University of Colorado’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. The board is accepting public comment through April 11…

It says statewide annual average temperatures have risen 2 degrees Fahrenheit in 30 years, the same as North America as a whole.

The report says computer models project Colorado temperatures will rise 2.5 to 5.5 degrees by mid-century, compared with a 1971-2000 baseline.

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