River diversion will eliminate portaging — The Leadville Herald

A river project, partially funded by the CWCB on the Arkansas River at Granite. The project was removing a river-wide diversion structure and replacing it with a new diversion structure that will allow unimpeded boating through Granite. Photo credit: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

From The Chaffee County Times (Max R. Smith) via The Leadville Herald:

In the mid-1960s, a partnership between the cities of Colorado Springs and Aurora installed a diversion dam in the Arkansas River south of Granite near Clear Creek Reservoir as part of a pipeline system bringing water from the western slope of the Continental Divide to the Front Range.

The presence of the diversion dam caused that portion of the river to be non-navigable, requiring portaging of one’s raft or kayak.

By the end of this year, however, Colorado Springs Utilities is on schedule to complete a three-year project to build a new river diversion that will allow boaters to float right through, meaning that the 2020 rafting season will be the first in over 50 years in which the entirety of the Arkansas can be travelled without portage.

“We’ll see how the snow treats us over the next couple weeks, but we’re really down to some final boulder work in the river and general site cleanup at this point,” said CSU project manager Brian McCormick.

The intake that pumped water out of the Arkansas (which, legally speaking, comes from the Eagle River Basin as part of the Homestake Project), destined for Aurora and Colorado Springs, “as with anything in the river for 50-plus years, it took some wear and tear,” McCormick said. “By about the mid-2000s, the cities recognized we needed to rehabilitate this structure to keep it as a reliable facility and ensure safety of the river users.”

Construction on the new $9.1 million diversion project began in 2016 after a number of years of planning, budgeting, and engineering. Support for the project included $1.2 million in grant funding from the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado Water Conservation Board…

Significant to water consumers in Colorado Springs and Aurora, the project utilizes a new intake and piping structure to send water to the Otero pump station, he said.

Significant to boaters is a chute constructed of boulders and mortar with six two-foot drops that will allow them to pass the intake facility without exiting the river. McCormick said that CSU put the call out to members of Colorado’s river recreation community to participate in a trial run down the chute in November, testing the Arkansas’s newest whitewater feature…

Significant to the scaled, Omega-3 rich denizens of the Arkansas who swim upstream to spawn every year, the new diversion also features a fish ladder: a sequence of weirs and pools that give brown and rainbow trout a route to move up the river to their spawning grounds.

Tribes oppose proposal to dam #ColoradoRiver tributary — The Mohave Valley Daily News #COriver

Confluence of the Little Colorado River and the Colorado River. Photo credit: DMY at Hebrew Wikipedia [Public domain]

From the Associated Press via The Mohave Valley Daily News:

Native American tribes, environmentalists, state and federal agencies, river rafters and others say they have significant concerns about proposals to dam a Colorado River tributary in northern Arizona for hydropower…

The Navajo Nation owns the land, and the projects won’t move forward without the tribe’s OK. The tribe wrote in comments posted online Monday that the dams could negatively impact its land, water, wildlife and cultural resources. Cameron, the Navajo community closest to the proposed projects, already has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to deny the permits.

The Hopi, Hualapai and Havasupai tribes also said they are concerned about possible impacts to sacred and historical sites and want to ensure the federal government keeps them in the loop on the proposals.

“A project such as this would forever disturb a traditional cultural landscape that maintains historic and sacred value and that is part of the cultural identity of the Hualapai people and other neighboring tribes,” Hualapai Chairman Damon Clarke and Peter Bungart, the tribe’s historic preservation officer, wrote in their comments.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has no hard deadline to act on the request for the preliminary permits. Construction would not start on the dams for at least a decade if they ultimately are licensed.

The projects would create power by moving water between upper and lower reservoirs, known as pumped storage. Such projects are seeing renewed interest as a way to supplement the electric grid.

Irwin said the Navajo Nation is an ideal location because of the steep canyon walls and the water source. But he said he is willing to tweak the proposals in response to comments. He also has said it’s unlikely both proposed projects will be built…

More than 100 comments were filed on each of the two proposals. People across the country urged the federal government to consider the impacts to recreation, an endangered fish, the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River downstream, the solitude of the region and water rights.

The Little Colorado River is the subject of a long-running water rights case in Arizona.

The river flows intermittently and can carry heavy sediment during the spring runoff and monsoon season. It’s also the primary spawning habitat for the endangered humpback chub in the lower Colorado River basin. Two-thirds of that habitat could be destroyed if the dams are built, the Interior Department wrote in its comments.

Cut global emissions by 7.6 percent every year for next decade to meet 1.5°C Paris target – UN report

Here’s the release from the New Climate Institute:

Key points:

  • On current unconditional pledges, the world is heading for a 3.2°C temperature rise
  • Technologies and policy knowledge exist to cut emissions, but transformations must begin now
  • G20 nations account for 78 per cent of all emissions, but 15 G20 members have not committed to a timeline for net-zero emissions
  • Geneva, 26 November 2019 – On the eve of a year in which nations are due to strengthen their Paris climate pledges, a new UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report warns that unless global greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6 per cent each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to get on track towards the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

    UNEP’s annual Emissions Gap Report says that even if all current unconditional commitments under the Paris Agreement are implemented, temperatures are expected to rise by 3.2°C, bringing even wider-ranging and more destructive climate impacts. Collective ambition must increase more than fivefold over current levels to deliver the cuts needed over the next decade for the 1.5°C goal.

    2020 is a critical year for climate action, with the UN climate change conference in Glasgow aiming to determine the future course of efforts to avert crisis, and countries expected to significantly step up their climate commitments.

    “For ten years, the Emissions Gap Report has been sounding the alarm – and for ten years, the world has only increased its emissions,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “There has never been a more important time to listen to the science. Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly and catastrophic heatwaves, storms and pollution.”

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that going beyond 1.5°C will increase the frequency and intensity of climate impacts.

    “Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions – over 7 per cent each year, if we break it down evenly over the next decade,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director. “This shows that countries simply cannot wait until the end of 2020, when new climate commitments are due, to step up action. They – and every city, region, business and individual – need to act now.”

    “We need quick wins to reduce emissions as much as possible in 2020, then stronger Nationally Determined Contributions to kick-start the major transformations of economies and societies. We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated,” she added. “If we don’t do this, the 1.5°C goal will be out of reach before 2030.”

    G20 nations collectively account for 78 per cent of all emissions, but only five G20 members have committed to a long-term zero emissions target.

    In the short-term, developed countries will have to reduce their emissions quicker than developing countries, for reasons of fairness and equity. However, all countries will need to contribute more to collective effects. Developing countries can learn from successful efforts in developed countries; they can even leapfrog them and adopt cleaner technologies at a faster rate.

    Crucially, the report says all nations must substantially increase ambition in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), as the Paris commitments are known, in 2020 and follow up with policies and strategies to implement them. Solutions are available to make meeting the Paris goals possible, but they are not being deployed fast enough or at a sufficiently large scale.

    Each year, the Emissions Gap Report assesses the gap between anticipated emissions in 2030 and levels consistent with the 1.5°C and 2°C targets of the Paris Agreement. The report finds that greenhouse gas emissions have risen 1.5 per cent per year over the last decade. Emissions in 2018, including from land-use changes such as deforestation, hit a new high of 55.3 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent.

    To limit temperatures, annual emissions in 2030 need to be 15 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent lower than current unconditional NDCs imply for the 2°C goal; they need to be 32 gigatonnes lower for the 1.5°C goal. On an annual basis, this means cuts in emissions of 7.6 per cent per year from 2020 to 2030 to meet the 1.5°C goal and 2.7 per cent per year for the 2°C goal.

    To deliver on these cuts, the levels of ambition in the NDCs must increase at least fivefold for the 1.5°C goal and threefold for the 2°C.

    Climate change can still be limited to 1.5°C, the report says. There is increased understanding of the additional benefits of climate action – such as clean air and a boost to the Sustainable Development Goals. There are many ambitious efforts from governments, cities, businesses and investors. Solutions, and the pressure and will to implement them, are abundant.

    As it does each year, the report focuses on the potential of selected sectors to deliver emissions cuts. This year it looks at the energy transition and the potential of efficiency in the use of materials, which can go a long way to closing the emissions gap.

    From The Washington Post (Brady Dennis):

    “We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated,” a top official says.

    The world has squandered so much time mustering the action necessary to combat climate change that rapid, unprecedented cuts in greenhouse gas emissions offer the only hope of averting an ever-intensifying cascade of consequences, according to new findings from the United Nations.

    Already, the past year has brought devastating hurricanes, relentless wildfires and crippling heat waves, prompting millions of protesters to take to the streets to demand more attention to a problem that seems increasingly urgent.

    Amid that growing pressure to act, Tuesday’s U.N. report offers a grim assessment of how off-track the world remains. Global temperatures are on pace to rise as much as 3.9 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, according to the United Nations’ annual “emissions gap” report, which assesses the difference between the world’s current path and the changes needed to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

    As part of that deal, world leaders agreed to hold warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels; the current trajectory is nearly twice that.

    Should that pace continue, scientists say, the result could be widespread, catastrophic effects: Coral reefs, already dying in some places, would probably dissolve in increasingly acidic oceans. Some coastal cities, already wrestling with flooding, would be constantly inundated by rising seas. In much of the world, severe heat, already intense, could become unbearable.

    Global greenhouse gas emissions must begin falling by 7.6 percent each year beginning 2020 — a rate currently nowhere in sight — to meet the most ambitious aims of the Paris climate accord, the report issued early Tuesday found. Its authors acknowledged that the findings are “bleak.” After all, the world has never demonstrated the ability to cut greenhouse gas emissions on such a scale.

    WMO: Carbon dioxide levels hit the highest recorded in human history — Axios #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

    From Axios (Rebecca Falconer):

    Atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) reached the highest ever recorded in human history in 2018, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced in a new report Monday.

    Why it matters: If the trend continues, as predicted, the impact of climate change will become even more severe, the intergovernmental organization warns. “The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement accompanying the report.

  • “Carbon dioxide is the most important long-lived greenhouse gas, with a single molecule lasting in the air for hundreds to around 1,000 years,” science journalist Andrew Freedman has noted for Axios. “The continued buildup of carbon dioxide due to human activities, such as burning fossil fuels for energy, is driving global temperatures up and instigating harmful impacts worldwide.”
  • By the numbers: The WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin reports that globally averaged concentrations of CO2 reached 407.8 parts per million last year. That means for every 1 million molecules of gas in the atmosphere, almost 408 was carbon dioxide.

  • It’s an increase of 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017. “The increase in CO2 from 2017 to 2018 was very close to that observed from 2016 to 2017 and just above the average over the last decade,” the WMO notes.
  • Global levels of CO2 crossed the symbolic and significant 400 parts per million benchmark in 2015.
  • What they’re saying: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) executive director Inger Andersen said in a statement the WMO data and preliminary findings in the 2019 UN Emissions Gap Report, released in September, “point us in a clear direction — in this critical period, the world must deliver concrete, stepped-up action on emissions.”

  • “There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We need to translate the commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of the mankind.”
    — Statement by WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas
  • The big picture: This continuing long-term trend means that future generations can expect “rising temperatures, more extreme weather, water stress, sea level rise and disruption to marine and land ecosystems” unless drastic action is taken, the WMO says.

  • The WMO says global emissions are “not estimated to peak by 2030, let alone by 2020,” if current climate policies and ambition levels of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are maintained.
  • Separate findings in the UN Environment’s Emissions Gap Report assessing the latest scientific studies on current and estimated future greenhouse gas emissions, was due to be released Tuesday, ahead of next month’s UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid.
  • Here’s the release from the World Meteorological Organization:

    Geneva, 25 November 2019 – Levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high, according to the World Meteorological Organization. This continuing long-term trend means that future generations will be confronted with increasingly severe impacts of climate change, including rising temperatures, more extreme weather, water stress, sea level rise and disruption to marine and land ecosystems.

    The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin showed that globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018, up from 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017.

    The increase in CO2 from 2017 to 2018 was very close to that observed from 2016 to 2017 and just above the average over the last decade. Global levels of CO2 crossed the symbolic and significant 400 parts per million benchmark in 2015.

    CO2 remains in the atmosphere for centuries and in the oceans for even longer.

    Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide also surged by higher amounts than during the past decade, according to observations from the Global Atmosphere Watch network which includes stations in the remote Arctic, mountain areas and tropical islands.

    Since 1990, there has been a 43% increase in total radiative forcing – the warming effect on the climate – by long-lived greenhouse gases. CO2 accounts for about 80% of this, according to figures from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration quoted in the WMO Bulletin.

    “There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,» said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “We need to translate the commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of the mankind,” he said.

    “It is worth recalling that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago. Back then, the temperature was 2-3°C warmer, sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now,” said Mr Taalas.

    Emissions Gap

    The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin reports on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Emissions represent what goes into the atmosphere. Concentrations represent what remains in the atmosphere after the complex system of interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, cryosphere and the oceans. About a quarter of the total emissions is absorbed by the oceans and another quarter by the biosphere.

    Global emissions are not estimated to peak by 2030, let alone by 2020, if current climate policies and ambition levels of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are maintained. Preliminary findings from the Emissions Gap Report 2019 indicate that greenhouse gas emissions continued to rise in 2018, according to an advanced chapter of the Emissions Gap Report released as part of a United in Science synthesis for the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in September.

    The United in Science report, which brought together major partner organizations in the domain of global climate change research, underlined the glaring – and growing – gap between agreed targets to tackle global warming and the actual reality.

    “The findings of WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin and UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report point us in a clear direction – in this critical period, the world must deliver concrete, stepped-up action on emissions,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). “We face a stark choice: set in motion the radical transformations we need now, or face the consequences of a planet radically altered by climate change.”

    A separate and complementary Emissions Gap Report by UN Environment will be released on 26 November. Now in its tenths year, the Emissions Gap report assesses the latest scientific studies on current and estimated future greenhouse gas emissions; they compare these with the emission levels permissible for the world to progress on a least-cost pathway to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. This difference between “where we are likely to be and where we need to be” is known as the emissions gap.

    UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the Summit had delivered “a boost in momentum, cooperation and ambition. But we have a long way to go.”

    This will now be taken forward by the UN Climate Change Conference, which will be held from 2 to15 December in Madrid, Spain, under the presidency of Chile.

    Key Findings of the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin

    The bulletin includes a focus on how isotopes confirm the dominant role of fossil fuel combustion in the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    There are multiple indications that the increase in the atmospheric levels of CO2 are related to fossil fuel combustion. Fossil fuels were formed from plant material millions of years ago and do not contain radiocarbon. Thus, burning it will add to the atmosphere radiocarbon-free CO2, increasing CO2 levels and decreasing its radiocarbon content. And this is exactly what is demonstrated by the measurements.

    Carbon dioxide

    Carbon dioxide is the main long-lived greenhouse gas in the atmosphere related to human activities. Its concentration reached new highs in 2018 of 407.8 ppm, or 147% of pre-industrial level in 1750.

    The increase in CO2 from 2017 to 2018 was above the average growth rate over the last decade. The growth rate of CO2 averaged over three consecutive decades (1985–1995, 1995–2005 and 2005–2015) increased from 1.42 ppm/yr to 1.86 ppm/yr and to 2.06 ppm/yr with the highest annual growth rates observed during El Niño events.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Annual Greenhouse Gas Index shows that from 1990 to 2018 radiative forcing by long-lived greenhouse gases (LLGHGs) increased by 43%, with CO2 accounting for about 80% of this increase

    Methane

    Methane (CH4) is the second most important long-lived greenhouse gas and contributes about 17% of radiative forcing. Approximately 40% of methane is emitted into the atmosphere by natural sources (e.g., wetlands and termites), and about 60% comes from human activities like cattle breeding, rice agriculture, fossil fuel exploitation, landfills and biomass burning.

    Atmospheric methane reached a new high of about 1869 parts per billion (ppb) in 2018 and is now 259% of the pre-industrial level. For CH4, the increase from 2017 to 2018 was higher than both that observed from 2016 to 2017 and the average over the last decade.

    Nitrous Oxide

    Nitrous oxide (N2O) is emitted into the atmosphere from both natural (about 60%) and anthropogenic sources (approximately 40%), including oceans, soil, biomass burning, fertilizer use, and various industrial processes.

    Its atmospheric concentration in 2018 was 331.1 parts per billion. This is 123% of pre-industrial levels. The increase from 2017 to 2018 was also higher than that observed from 2016 to 2017 and the average growth rate over the past 10 years.

    Nitrous oxide also plays an important role in the destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer which protects us from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. It accounts for about 6% of radiative forcing by long-lived greenhouse gases.

    Paper: Invisible water security: Moisture recycling and water resilience

    Fig. 1. Moisture recycling: (a) the flow of water that has evaporated from the Earth’s surface and falls back as precipitation; while the ocean provides 60% of the precipitation falling globally on land, the orange box denotes the focus of this article, i.e. the land-to-land component, which provides 40% of terrestrial precipitation; (b) the percent of total evaporation that is regulated by vegetation for precipitation on land elsewhere; and (c) the percent of precipitation that is dependent on upwind vegetation regulation. Image credit: Science Direct

    Click here to read the paper (Patrick W.Keys, Miina Porkka, Lan Wang-Erlandsson, Ingo Fetzer, Tom Gleeson, Line J.Gordon). Here’s the abstract:

    Water security is key to planetary resilience for human society to flourish in the face of global change. Atmospheric moisture recycling – the process of water evaporating from land, flowing through the atmosphere, and falling out again as precipitation over land – is the invisible mechanism by which water influences resilience, that is the capacity to persist, adapt, and transform. Through land-use change, mainly by agricultural expansion, humans are destabilizing and modifying moisture recycling and precipitation patterns across the world. Here, we provide an overview of how moisture recycling changes may threaten tropical forests, dryland ecosystems, agriculture production, river flows, and water supplies in megacities, and review the budding literature that explores possibilities to more consciously manage and govern moisture recycling. Novel concepts such as the precipitationshed allows for the source region of precipitation to be understood, addressed and incorporated in existing water resources tools and sustainability frameworks. We conclude that achieving water security and resilience requires that we understand the implications of human influence on moisture recycling, and that new research is paving the way for future possibilities to manage and mitigate potentially catastrophic effects of land use and water system change.