Cyclists: I made this video a few months ago and was waiting for a good time to share it, but there won’t be a good time. There’ve been some deaths in New York City that hit close to home, with the usual poor response from media and police. I love riding a bike and I think everyone should do it but I’m also scared and I’m angry, and I’m injured now and feeling particularly vulnerable about getting back on the road in a few weeks. I don’t want to scare you out of riding, but we’re all this together and at some point I just have to put this out there.
Motorists: please understand that I hate being in your way far more than you do. It’s your convenience but it’s my life. Support protected bike lanes and infrastructure and we’re all better off. Every cyclists or scooter or pedestrian you see is a taxpaying human being with loved ones just trying to go about their business, and we have to work together and coexist.
Contiguous U.S. surpasses wettest 12-month period on record for third time this year
The June contiguous U.S. temperature was 68.7°F, 0.2°F above the 20th century average, ranking in the middle third of the 125-year record. The first half of 2019 was marked by large regional differences in temperature, but when averaged, the contiguous U.S. temperature was 47.6°F, 0.1°F above the 20th century average, and ranked in the middle third of the January–June record.
The June precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 3.30 inches, 0.37 inch above average, and ranked in the upper third of the 125-year period of record. For the year-to-date, the precipitation total was 19.05 inches, 3.74 inches above average, and the wettest such period in the 125-year record. Average precipitation across the contiguous U.S. for July 2018–June 2019 was 37.86 inches, 7.90 inches above average, and broke a record, exceeding the previous all-time 12-month period on record set at the end of May. The previous all-time 12-month record was 37.72 inches and occurred from June 2018–May 2019. Prior to that record, the all-time 12-month record was 36.31 during May 2018–April 2019. The previous July–June record was 35.11 inches and occurred from July 1982–June 1983.
This monthly summary from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making.
Above- to much-above-average June temperatures were observed across 11 states, along the Pacific Coast, the Gulf Coast and the mid-Atlantic and New England coast, with Florida experiencing its third warmest June on record.
Below-average June temperatures were scattered across the central Rockies and central to southern Plains, the Ohio Valley to Great Lakes and into parts of the Northeast.
The Alaska average June temperature was 54.0°F, 4.8°F above the long-term mean and the second warmest June on record for the state. Kotzebue, Anchorage, Talkeetna and Yakutat each had their warmest June on record. On June 30, Northway reported a high temperature of 92°F, eclipsing the 50-year-old all-time record high temperature of 91°F, which occurred on June 15, 1969. The high temperature at Utqiaġvik (Barrow) on June 20 was 73°F, which is a record for the month of June.
Extremely warm sea surface temperatures across the Bering and Chukchi seas contributed to the lowest mean ice extent on record for June.
Above- to much-above-average precipitation was observed from the Deep South, through the Mississippi and Ohio valleys and along much of the East Coast. Kentucky ranked third wettest, Ohio was fifth wettest and Tennessee ranked eighth wettest for June.
Flooding persisted along many of the major river systems and their tributaries across the central U.S. including the central and lower Mississippi River, the Missouri River, as well as the Illinois River.
As astronomical spring transitioned into summer in the Northern Hemisphere on June 21, an intense low pressure system brought more than a foot of snow to parts of the northern and central Rockies.
Below-average precipitation was observed across six states in the West as well as North and South Dakota.
According to the July 2 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 3.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down from 5.3 percent at the beginning of June. Drought conditions worsened across parts of the Pacific Northwest and Puerto Rico. Many large wildfires impacted portions of interior Alaska during June, where recent dry conditions contributed to an abundance of wildfire fuels. Drought conditions improved across much of the Southeast, parts of the Southwest, as well as across Hawaii.
Year-to-date (January–June) Temperature
Above- to much-above-average January–June temperatures were observed from Louisiana to New England. Nine states across the Southeast and mid-Atlantic had a top 10 warmest year-to-date period with Florida ranking warmest on record. Below-average temperatures were observed from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Lakes with South Dakota ranking 10th coolest for January–June.
The Alaska statewide average temperature for the year-to-date period was 29.2°F, 7.9°F above average, and ranked as the second warmest on record. Record warm temperatures were observed across western and northern areas of the state, with above- to much-above-average temperatures across the interior and southeastern portion of Alaska. Through June, Utqiaġvik (Barrow) has experienced its warmest year-to-date on record.
Year-to-date (January–June) Precipitation
Above-average precipitation blanketed much of the contiguous U.S. during this year-to-date period. Illinois ranked wettest, while 11 additional states had a top five January–June.
Below-average precipitation was observed in Washington state, which ranked eighth driest, South Carolina and North Dakota.
On election night 2016, Kim Cobb, a professor at the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, was on Christmas Island, the world’s largest ring-shaped coral reef atoll, about 1,300 miles south of Hawaii. A climate scientist, she was collecting coral skeletons to produce estimates of past ocean temperatures. She had been taking these sorts of research trips for two decades, and over recent years she had witnessed about 85 percent of the island’s reef system perish due to rising ocean temperatures. “I was diving with tears in my eyes,” she recalls.
In a row house made of cinder blocks on the tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, she monitored the American election results, using a satellite uplink that took several minutes to load a page. When she saw Donald Trump’s victory, she felt shock and soon descended into severe depression. “I had the firm belief that Washington would act on climate change and would be acting soon,” the 44-year-old Cobb says. “When Trump was elected, it came crashing down.”
Back home in Atlanta, Cobb entered what she now calls “an acute mental health crisis.” Most mornings, she could not get out of bed, despite having four children to tend to. She would sob spontaneously. She obsessed about the notion that the US government would take no action to address climate change and confront its consequences. “I could not see a way forward,” she recalls. “My most resounding thought was, how could my country do this? I had to face the fact that there was a veritable tidal wave of people who don’t care about climate change and who put personal interest above the body of scientific information that I had contributed to.” Her depression persisted for weeks. “I didn’t recognize myself,” she says.
Nine months after the election, Priya Shukla, a Ph.D. student at the University of California-Davis who studies how climate change affects shellfish aquaculture and coastal food security, was in the Bodega Marine Laboratory, examining data showing rising ocean acidity caused by greenhouse gas emissions. She was also binge-listening to the podcast S-Town, which focused on an eccentric and troubled man prone to obsessing—ranting, really—about the possible apocalyptic effects of climate change. Shukla, 27 years old, realized she was “emotionally exhausted” by the toll of constantly scrutinizing the “huge tragedy” happening in the oceans. “I did not want to experience that fatigue,” she says, “because then I wouldn’t want to do this work anymore.” She decided to see a therapist. And these days she sometimes has to stop reading scientific papers: “I’m tired of processing this incredible and immense decline—and I’m a contributor to the problem. I have to walk away from the papers and don’t want to face myself in the mirror. I feel profound sadness and loss. I feel very angry.”
It’s hardly surprising that researchers who spend their lives exploring the dire effects of climate change might experience emotional consequences from their work. Yet, increasingly, Cobb, Shukla, and others in the field have begun publicly discussing the psychological impact of contending with data pointing to a looming catastrophe, dealing with denialism and attacks on science, and observing government inaction in the face of climate change. “Scientists are talking about an intense mix of emotions right now,” says Christine Arena, executive producer of the docuseries Let Science Speak, which featured climate researchers speaking out against efforts to silence or ignore science. “There’s deep grief and anxiety for what’s being lost, followed by rage at continued political inaction, and finally hope that we can indeed solve this challenge. There are definitely tears and trembling voices. They know this deep truth: They are on the front lines of contending with the fear, anger, and perhaps even panic the rest of us will have to deal with.”
These scientists know that the world will not be returning to the stable climate that has given rise to civilization. It’s ironic that the meteor that nearly obliterated life on earth during the age of dinosaurs is causing another mass extinction all these millennia afterward through the agency of humankind.
Releases from the Aspinall Unit will be increased by 650 cfs between Tuesday and Wednesday, July 9 and 10. This release increase is necessary to prevent Blue Mesa Reservoir from overfilling. At the current release rate it is projected that Blue Mesa Reservoir would spill within 2 weeks. The current forecast for the April-July runoff volume for Blue Mesa Reservoir is 1,060,000 AF of inflow, which is 157% of average. Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 1500 cfs. River flows are expected to stay above the baseflow target for the foreseeable future.
Pursuant to the Aspinall Unit Operations Record of Decision (ROD), the baseflow target in the lower Gunnison River, as measured at the Whitewater gage, is 1500 cfs for July and August.
Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are 850 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 1500 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will still be 850 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon will be around 2150 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.
Here’s the release from Colorado State University:
On a recent sunny day in Northern Colorado, a team from Colorado State University and the City of Fort Collins released eight bison on the windswept plains of the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and the Red Mountain Open Space.
“It never gets old,” said CSU’s Jennifer Barfield as the majestic animals started to explore their new home, lumbering their way to join the rest of the Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation Herd.
The Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation Herd was established with nine females and one male calf in November 2015. The bison had valuable genetics from the Yellowstone National Park Herd and — thanks to science implemented at CSU — the animals were also disease-free.
Not even four years later, there are now 76 bison. The success of this conservation effort astounds even those closest to the project, including Barfield, who serves as the scientific lead and is a reproductive physiologist.
“It is incredibly exciting and fulfilling to see the partnerships we’re forming, and the way we’re able to share our bison with tribal and conservation herds, which is really what we intended,” she said. “What’s really surprised me is how quickly we’ve gotten to this point, and part of that is due to how well the animals are doing. They’re reproducing well and they’re just healthy, in general.”
New partners sustain, honor bison
Over the last few years, the project’s partners — CSU, the City of Fort Collins and Larimer County — have contributed bison to conservation efforts across the U.S. This includes teaming up with the Minnesota Zoo, which is helping to restore bison to some of the state park systems in that state, and the Pueblo of Pojoaque tribe in New Mexico, which manages bison on the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge, in partnership with the Denver Zoo.
Earlier this month, two bulls from the herd were delivered to the Oakland Zoo, where they will breed with female bison from the Blackfeet Nation, which partners with the zoo on its Iinnii Initiative, which aims to conserve traditional lands, protect Blackfeet culture and create a home for the buffalo. These female bison are from the Elk Island National Park in Alberta, Canada, and are descendants from animals captured on the Blackfeet land in the late 1800s.
The calves that are produced will go back to the reservation and live on the natural landscape in Montana. The bulls will follow suit, after a few years of breeding at the zoo.
Teri Dahle, coordinator for the Iinnii Initiative, said that the return of the buffalo to native lands provides hope for members of the Blackfoot Confederacy, which includes the Blackfeet Nation-Amaskapi Piikuni-Montana, Kainai – Blood Tribe-Alberta, North Peigan- Piikani Nation-Alberta and Siksika Nation-Alberta.
“It’s so important for us to have these buffalo, for many reasons, but most importantly for our spirituality,” she said.
At one point, more than 30 million buffalo freely roamed the tribal lands, but populations neared extinction in the 1870s and 1880s due to the slaughter of wild buffalo by settlers.
“Our whole lifestyle changed at that moment,” Dahle said.
She hopes the partnership will also provide educational opportunities for tribal youth. “They can be exposed to what it might be like to be a veterinarian, conservationist or zoologist,” she said. “Our youth could see the connections and the scientific part of the project, too.”
The new project has additional ties to Fort Collins. Dr. Joel Parrott, a veterinarian and CSU DVM program alumnus, is the president and CEO of Oakland Zoo.
“I am excited to partner with my alma mater to bring Yellowstone Park ancestry to Oakland Zoo’s California Trail,” he said, referring to a 56-acre park in the zoo dedicated to iconic species, including bison. “Introducing these two bulls to our female herd will bring a more diverse and strong genetic line to the animals we release to be free-ranging on Blackfeet tribal land and U.S. and Canadian national parks through the Iinnii Initiative.”
Meegan Flenniken, division manager of Land Conservation, Planning & Resource with Larimer County, said her team is thrilled that the conservation goals of the Laramie Foothills herd continue to be realized.
“The proven success of this project is not only to re-introduce bison to northern Colorado at Red Mountain Open Space and Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, but ultimately for animals from that herd to help establish herds elsewhere,” she added.
Barfield said that the two bulls who recently left the herd are quite special since they were among the first group of calves born on the prairie in Northern Colorado.
“They’re our first generation of babies that are now going out and contributing to other herds,” she said. “We watched these guys grow from tiny little red calves and now, they’re big bulls, ready to go out and start contributing their genetics to the herd and to other herds outside ours. It’s rewarding but it’s always sad to see them go.”
Zoe Shark, public engagement manager for the City of Fort Collins natural areas, noted that the herd has had a major impact in the region and beyond, through social media.
“We’ve all been able to see how the community has been engaged, and really care about these animals and where they go, and how they’re contributing to conservation not only here, but outside of Colorado,” she said. “We have a lot of people who are interested in the bison and in learning more about them, their history and role in the ecosystem.”
In the first publicly released independent review of a 637-page modeling report and 113-page application for a “produced water” discharge permit, consultants hired by four conservation groups let loose on the science in Aethon studies describing methods and results as “misleading,” “very odd,” “questionable and unrealistic,” “surprising,” and “unwarranted and wrong,” among other things.
Aetheon and Burlington Resources seek permission from the BLM to expand the Moneta Divide oil and gas field by 4,250 wells and need a DEQ permit to discharge up to 2,161 tons a month of total dissolved solids at a rate of 8.27 million gallons a day. The effluent from oil and gas wells would flow through Alkali and Badwater creeks, into Boysen Reservoir in Boysen State Park and into the federally protected Class I flows of the Wind River — the source of Thermopolis’ drinking water.
“The draft permit violates the Clean Water Act, the Wyoming Environmental Quality Act, and the Department [of Environmental Quality’s] rules and regulations implementing those laws,” the Wyoming Outdoor Council, Powder River Basin Resource Council, National Audubon Society and Natural Resource Defense Council wrote the DEQ. “The discharge of produced water from this facility has damaged and continues to damage surface waters of the state and threatens downstream communities with undisclosed health risks,” reads the groups’ cover letter, signed by representatives in Lander, Sheridan, Washington, D.C. and Livermore, Colorado.
They urged the state regulatory agency to encourage the Texas-based energy company “to consider other, less environmental damaging alternatives to the discharge.” In the meantime, “the permit should be denied,” the letter reads.
Yet in the arid West, new water can be valuable, if it is properly treated. “Water resources in the West are a topic of great importance and these issues are currently being studie[d] by a multitude of governmental agencies and research institutes,” wrote Peter Jones, a consulting geochemist from Houston, Texas. He reviewed the Aethon proposal and made the seven-page review available to WyoFile.
“As planned, the Moneta Divide development will be on the forefront of technology and may well be a model for how produced water may be converted into a valuable resource,” he wrote.