#ColoradoRiver: The @CWCB_DNR is installing a ceilometer in Winter Park #COriver

Winter Park via MyColoradoLife.com.
Winter Park via MyColoradoLife.com.

From The Sky-Hi Daily News (Travis Poulin):

At their October 4 meeting, the Winter Park Town Council passed a motion to allow a ceilometer to be installed on the roof of the Winter Park Town Hall. . A ceilometer is a device that uses a laser to determine the height of a cloud base.

The town received a request from the Colorado Water Conservancy Board (CWCB), Denver Water and Winter Park Resort to place the device on the Town Hall building to aid them in their cloud seeding program. It will detect multiple layers of cloud height as well as measure the liquid water available in the clouds. The ceilometer will allow them to provide better forecasting for the cloud seeding program.

In addition to the cloud seeding program, this device will be available to pilots flying into Grand County. The pilots can determine the base elevation of the clouds as they approach the runway at the Granby/ Grand County Airport. The ceilometer is approximately four feet tall and would be attached to an existing concrete pillar.

The ceilometer will need electricity and Internet service. The electricity usage is approximately 5 amps per month (about 55 cents per month). The data usage is approximately a half a megabyte per month. The additional Internet service would not require upgrades as the current system has adequate space.

The Winter Park Town Council, CWCB, Denver Water, and Winter Park resort are now in the process of drafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the installation of the ceilometer. The council also determined they will need a lease agreement for the project.


There are currently two cloud seeding generators in Grand County—one to the north of the Younglife camp at Crooked Creek Ranch, and the other near Churches Park in Fraser. The generators are remotely operated and controlled from Reno, Nev. They have been in place since 2009.

The Desert Research Institute (DRI) runs the cloud seeding program. According to their website, DRI currently has five cloud seeding operations: the San Juans (Mancos) Project, the San Miguel (Telluride) Project, Tahoe and Truckee basins, Walker Basin, and the Winter Park/ Denver Water Project. The purpose of the program is to augment snowfall in mountainous regions that supply water to northern and southern Nevada, and increase the snowpack and resultant runoff from the targeted basins.

According to DRI website, ground-based generators are used to burn a solution of silver iodide, sodium iodide, salt and acetone to release microscopic silver iodide particles which can create additional ice crystals, then snow, in winter clouds. Weather conditions are selected to optimize fallout in targeted basins. Generators are remotely operated by telephone landline, by radio or by other types of wireless communication. A seeding aircraft is frequently used to augment ground seeding operations. The aircraft releases AgI from wing-mounted solution burners. Dry ice is also used occasionally to seed shallow cloud systems, including fog over airports.

According to the website, benefits vary with the seasonal frequency of suitable weather opportunities. Research results have documented precipitation rate increases of a few hundredths to about two millimeters per hour due to ground-based seeding during the proper weather conditions. Based on the rate increases, estimates of augmented snow water from the DRI seeding program have varied from 20,000 to 80,000 acre-feet annually over the past 15 years of operation.

Seasonal percentage increase estimates have varied from two percent to ten percent The cost of augmented water, based on the annual cost of the program, has ranged from $7 to about $18 per acre-foot, according to DRI.

Cloud-seeding graphic via Science Matters
Cloud-seeding graphic via Science Matters

#ClimateChange is messing with clouds, and it’s a really big deal — @EnvDefenseFund #actonclimate

Cloud photo via Wikipedia
Cloud photo via Wikipedia

From the Environment Defense Fund:

Scientists have found that a warmer Earth is indeed pushing clouds upward and poleward – a response to global warming that climate models have predicted for some time, but we had difficulty detecting until now.

New research published last month in the journal Nature revealed the changes in cloud elevation and coverage after analyzing 30 years of satellite data.

A warmer Earth elevates clouds because the troposphere, the lowest layer of our atmosphere where weather occurs, can extend higher with a hotter surface. Warming also moves clouds poleward because circulation patterns in the tropics are expanding, pushing storms north and south.

But there’s a bigger issue at play here: These perturbed clouds may cause further warming, triggering a vicious cycle of increasingly rising global temperatures. That critical detail was often glossed over as news of the cloud changes spread last month.

As clouds move higher, they trap more heat

While clouds strongly reflect sunlight, as indicated by their bright white color, they also absorb the heat that radiates from Earth’s surface.

Anything that absorbs energy must also re-emit energy. How much is released depends on the temperature of the object.

Heat absorbed and then re-emitted by low clouds that are close to the ground is similar to the heat emitted by the surface because the temperature of the ground and the cloud are similar.

But the higher the cloud is in the sky, the colder it is. So when these high clouds absorb Earth’s heat, they re-emit it at a much lower temperature, forming a blanket that traps heat in the climate system similar to how greenhouse gases trap heat.

If climate change is causing clouds to form at higher elevations, as the science suggests, this phenomenon may thus be causing even more warming of the climate system.

Earth gets more sun as clouds move poleward

While high clouds trap heat, low clouds block sunlight from reaching Earth’s surface, keeping us cool.

The tropics get the most sunlight because of Earth’s orientation. As we move towards the poles, there is less and less sunlight reaching the surface.

Clouds are now moving poleward because of a northward shift in the storm tracks due to the expansion of circulation patterns in the tropics. As a result, these clouds are reflecting less sunlight back out to space than they did at lower latitudes because less sunlight is hitting them when farther north.

There is also more sunlight reaching the mid-latitudes, heating up the surface. This raises temperatures, especially in some arid parts of the world – causing additional warming of the climate system.

There’s only one conclusion we can draw from these alarming findings: We need to curb climate change, and fast.

Agriculture Water Summit in Golden, Colorado, November 29, 2016

Photo credit Terry Smith via The City of Golden.
Photo credit Terry Smith via The City of Golden.

From email from the Interbasin Compact Committee:

The Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC) and Colorado Agriculture Water Alliance (CAWA) will be holding an Agriculture Water Summit in Golden, Colorado. The price is free to attend, we will be sending out an agenda and link to the registration site in the coming weeks.

Date: Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Time: 9:15 a.m. – 5:00p.m.

Location: Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 15200 W. 6th Ave. Frontage Road, Golden, CO.

Room: Exhibit Hall

Flood irrigation in the Arkansas Valley via Greg Hobbs
Flood irrigation in the Arkansas Valley via Greg Hobbs