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Global warming and climate change myths

Here is a summary of global warming and climate change myths, sorted by recent popularity vs what science says. Click the response for a more detailed response. You can also view them sorted by taxonomy, by popularity, in a print-friendly version, with short URLs or with fixed numbers you can use for permanent references.

@USBR: Reclamation Awards a $3.7 Million Contract for Silt Pumping Plant Modernization

Rifle Gap Reservoir via the Applegate Group
Rifle Gap Reservoir via the Applegate Group

Here’s the release from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Justyn Liff):

The Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a $3.7 million contract for modernization of the Silt Pumping Plant to Aslan Construction, from Berthoud, Colorado. The pumping plant is part of the Silt Project located near Rifle, Colorado.

The pumping plant was completed in 1967 and pumps water from the Colorado River to be stored in Rifle Gap Reservoir. Water from the reservoir is used for irrigation in the area. Modernization of the pumping plant includes: installing new pumps, refurbishing the pump motors, and replacing the electrical system.

Manufacturing of equipment and parts will begin during the winter of 2016. In the fall of 2017, after the irrigation season ends, work will begin to modernize the pumping plant. The project will be completed before the 2018 irrigation season.

NASA Seeks To Unlock Secrets Of Colorado #Snowpack

Senator Beck Basin weather stations photo credit Center for Snow & Avalanche Studies.
Senator Beck Basin weather stations photo credit Center for Snow & Avalanche Studies.

From Colorado Public Radio (Nancy Lofholm):

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is preparing to boldly go where many Coloradoans have gone before — into mountain snowpack. NASA is undertaking a five-year study of snow, called SnowEx, so that eventually new combinations of snow sensors can be placed on satellites.

Those sensors will show, on a global scale, how much water is in snow and how fast it is melting. That will help manage the world’s water supply, as well as better predict floods and droughts.

This study, which will be carried out at two Western Colorado sites, is fraught with what NASA scientists call “confounding factors,” most notably, trees. Past attempts to measure snow from satellites have failed to “see” through tree canopy.

On the Grand Mesa near Grand Junction, NASA chose a study site that is heavily forested and should be able to confound an array of high-tech airborne sensors. At the Center for Snow & Avalanche Studies in the San Juan mountains, NASA will study an extreme, high-altitude headwaters basin that has the benefit of decades of on-the-ground data collection.

In February, the NASA snow study will bring sensor-carrying aircraft to the sites, including a lumbering turbo-prop that will fly very low over the treetops for five days. Other study aircraft will be flying high and will be less noticeable.

NASA also plans to have 40 to 50 researchers on the ground to perform what the agency refers to as “ground truthing.” That means digging snow pits and measuring snow factors by hand to determine if the high-tech sensors on the aircraft are producing accurate data.

Got more questions about SnowEx? NASA has created a slide presentation, “Got Snow?” to explain the ins and outs, and ups and downs, of the project.

NRCS: New Water Year Starts Slow Then Makes Big Turnaround

Here’s the release from the NRCS (Brian Domonkos):

The beginning of water year 2017, which started on October 1, 2016, experienced an extremely slow start. What little precipitation fell came in the form of rain, and warm autumn temperatures prevented snow from accumulating in all but the highest elevations. From the beginning of the water year through November 17th, 2016, statewide Colorado snowpack was off to the worst start in over 32 years at 6% of normal and year-to-date precipitation ranked in the bottom tenth percentile. “At that point prospects for reaching normal snowpack conditions by January 1st, 2017 were bleak and chances of achieving normal snowpack by late April, when snowpack typically peaks, looked doubtful” said Brian Domonkos, Snow Survey Supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation s Service.

statewidebasinhilo01072016

November 17th, 2016 was a real turning point for snowpack. Late summer quickly turned to winter and mountain snow began to accumulate quickly. According to automated Colorado Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) data, from November 17th through January 1st, 2017 snowpack in the mountains grew at the fastest rate dating back to 1986, with an statewide gain of 7.4 inches of snow water equivalent (SWE). That increase is greater than 1997, 2008, and 2011 for that same period in their respective years.

Providing more current information Domonkos went on to say, “As of January 1st 2017 Colorado statewide snowpack is a healthy 114% of normal, riding in on the back of a December which saw 171% of normal precipitation.” Late November and December precipitation boosted statewide year-to-date precipitation from nearly 30% of normal on November 17th to 98% of normal on the first of this month. Combined reservoir storages in the state of Colorado rounds out 2016 at 105% of normal. The start of water year 2017 has been one of extremes, so far ending up on the favorable side.

storagesnowpack-1-12017

At the time of this news release, streamflow forecasts are not available, but will be provided in detail in the January 1, 2017 Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report when it is made available.

For more detailed and the most up to date information about Colorado snowpack and supporting water supply related information, refer to the Colorado Snow Survey website at:
http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/co/snow/

Or contact Brian Domonkos, Colorado Snow Survey Supervisor at Brian.Domonkos@co.usda.gov or 720-544-2852.

#ColoradoRiver: Glen Canyon Dam structurally sound, no underachiever — Marlon Duke

From the Arizona Daily Sun (Marlon Duke):

Glen Canyon Dam is a National Resource

Last Friday’s editorial (“Lots to unwind if Glen Canyon Dam shuttered too soon“) discussed the newly signed management plan for Glen Canyon Dam, but incorrectly attributed its 20-year focus to a possible end to federal management by 2036. Glen Canyon Dam is a crucial national resource and the federal government remains fully committed to its long-term successful management well into the future. This new plan enhances certainty and predictability for water and power users, while protecting downstream environmental and cultural resources. The plan’s 20-year focus simply provides a timeline for regularly adjusting dam operations as ongoing science and other factors inform future planning.

Several other assertions merit correction as well. There are no mounting bills for dredging or structural upkeep. Silt buildup hasn’t yet reached the dam and sediment deltas are more than 100 miles upstream in the reservoir. Estimates predict silt won’t fill behind the dam for 700 to 1,000 years. Sediment buildup poses no threat to the dam’s integrity–it is completely structurally sound.

Claims of lost water through seepage are also overstated. Some groups advocate decommissioning the dam based in part on outdated water loss studies. However, a recent assessment by the Center for Colorado River Studies at Utah State University found seepage rates are much lower than those groups claim and that rates are actually declining over time. Seepage water enters the ground water system and eventually returns to the reservoir or river channel.

Without both Lake Powell and Lake Mead, basin-wide drought impacts would have been even more severe. In fact, seven of the past 17 drought years saw less than 8 million acre feet (maf) of unregulated inflow into Lake Powell—that’s the amount that would flow to Lake Mead without Glen Canyon Dam. Four years saw less than 6 maf and 2002’s inflow was only 2.64 maf. However, during even the driest years, storage in Lake Powell allowed full water deliveries with average annual releases of 8.71 maf throughout the drought.

Examining total water storage and use further highlights Lake Powell’s continued importance. Storage capacity at Lakes Mead and Powell is finite—Lake Mead’s maximum capacity is 28.9 maf and Lake Powell’s is 26.2 maf, for a total combined capacity of 55.1 maf. Both reservoirs were at or near full when the drought began in 2000. By the end of water year 2016, regular water deliveries had depleted combined reservoir storage by 30.7 maf—more than either Lake Mead or Lake Powell could support on its own. Without Lake Powell’s storage, those obligated water deliveries would have completely drained Lake Mead before 2016.

Far from being an underachiever, Glen Canyon Dam is doing precisely what is was intended to do — storing water in wet years to ensure predictable, full deliveries across the basin every year. Populations in Arizona and the west continue to grow, as do the challenges and complexities of efficiently managing limited water resources. Glen Canyon Dam has been integral to meeting those challenges for more than 50 years and will continue its role for many decades to come.