The latest #ENSO discussion is hot off the presses from the Climate Prediction Center

Plume of ENSO forecasts April 2021 via the Climate Prediction Center.

Click here to read the discussion:

EL NIÑO/SOUTHERN OSCILLATION (ENSO) DIAGNOSTIC DISCUSSION
issuedby

CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER/NCEP/NWS

and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society 13 May 2021
ENSO Alert System Status: Final La Niña Advisory

Synopsis: La Niña has ended, with ENSO-neutral likely to continue through the Northern Hemisphere summer (67% chance in June-August 2021).

During April, the tropical Pacific Ocean returned to ENSO-neutral conditions as the coupling between the atmosphere and ocean weakened. Sea surface temperatures were near-to-below average across most of the equatorial Pacific Ocean in the past month. The Niño indices have generally trended toward normal during the last several months, except for the easternmost Niño-1+2 region, which was -0.7oC in the past week. Subsurface temperature anomalies continued to increase due to a downwelling Kelvin wave, which reinforced the positive temperature anomalies along the thermocline. Low-level easterly wind anomalies were weakly present in the east-centralPacific, but were westerly in the far western Pacific Ocean, while upper-level wind anomalies remained westerly across the central and east-central tropicalPacific. Tropical convection became near average around the Date Line in the past month, with suppressed convection evident over Indonesia. Overall, the ocean and atmosphere system reflected a return to ENSO-neutral.

Most of the models in the IRI/CPC plume predict a continuation of ENSO-neutral through the Northern Hemisphere summer 2021. The forecaster consensus agrees with this set of models through the summer, and then begins hedging toward cooler conditions as the Northern Hemisphere fall approaches. La Niña chances are around 50-55% during the late fall and winter, which is in alignment with forecasts from the NCEP Climate Forecast System and North American Multi-model Ensemble. However, there is typically large uncertainty with forecasts made in the spring, so confidence in ENSO-neutral for the coming seasons is highest. In summary, La Niña has ended, with ENSO-neutral likely to continue through the Northern Hemisphere summer (67% chance in June-August 2021; click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chances in each 3-month period).

The Upper #GunnisonRiver Water Conservancy District Spring Newsletter 2021 is hot off the presses

George Sibley as the Water Buffalo in “Sonofagunn.” Photo courtesy of the Gunnison Arts Center via the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

George Sibley was appointed to the UGRWCD Board of Directors in June 2006 representing Division 8, the City of Gunnison, and most recently served as Secretary for the District. After nearly 13 years of service, George submitted his resignation to the UGRWCD earlier this year. George is well-known and well-respected on the Western slope and throughout the state for his commitment to and many years of valuable service on water issues and protecting water users in the Upper Gunnison Basin. Because of his knowledge, time and effort committed to all things water, George affectionately earned the honorary title of Gunnison’s own “Water Buffalo,” a role he portrayed in many of the annual Sonofagunn productions at the Gunnison Arts Center.

“George will be dearly missed within the water community for the knowledge he brings to the table and for spurring much needed conversations around the water resource challenges we face,” said UGRWCD General Manager Sonja Chavez. “We wish him the very best!”

Here’s to calm waters, George, as you embark on the next phase of life!

Scientists: Beavers latest tool to emerge in rebuilding #drought-stricken streams — @WaterEdCO

Beaver dam on the Crystal River in Colorado. Credit: Sarah Marshall, Colorado Natural Heritage Program via Water Education Colorado

From Water Education Colorado (Jerd Smith):

Beavers, known for their work ethic, tenacity and sometimes destructive instincts, are making a comeback in the worlds of science and water as researchers look for natural ways to restore rivers and wetlands and improve the health of drought-stressed aquifers.

“The concept of beavers and their ability to restore streams is not new,” said Sarah Marshall, an ecohydrologist at Colorado State University’s Colorado Natural Heritage Program who has been studying these semi-aquatic rodents for years. “Now we have a body of groundwater and sediment capture studies that have really resonated with folks who are managing water, especially with these nagging problems of drought and earlier snowmelt.”

This fall, Colorado Headwaters, a nonprofit that advocates for protecting and restoring headwater regions in the state, is sponsoring a beaver summit, a conference designed to unveil some of the latest ecological research on creatures once valued only for their glossy fur.

“The idea is to drive the knowledge to the general public and legislators so they have a better handle on how to address this,” said Jerry Mallett, Colorado Headwaters founder and president.

Beaver advocates would like to see more funding for research, new programs, such as a beaver census, and better integration of wetland restoration efforts in headwaters areas.

Before beavers were nearly trapped out of existence in the mid-1800s, they inhabited high mountain wetlands and river basins across Colorado and the West. They played an important ecological role, according to Marshall. Their dams trapped water, allowing it to flood wetlands and soak into underground aquifers. Those same dams also trapped sediment, enhancing habitat for fish and other wildlife.

But beavers also did their fair share of damage as the West was settled, garnering a reputation for damming irrigation ditches and flooding culverts and roads, angering ranchers and city dwellers alike.

Even in urban areas, beavers are considered a nuisance because their never-ending dam building often floods city parks and harms trees.

But Marshall is hopeful that events such as the upcoming summit as well as ongoing education of policy makers and the public on the benefits of the water-related work beavers do will help improve their reputation.

“One of the most important things about how beavers help streams is that they are very dynamic. They don’t just create a dam. They move around in watersheds creating systems that are constantly changing.

“By creating a series of dams they do everything from refilling alluvial aquifers to physically trapping sediment and creating physical habitat for rare species such as boreal toads and trout,” she said.

Carlyle Currier, president of the Colorado Farm Bureau, said beavers remain a sore topic in the agricultural world because their dams often harm expensive irrigation systems and cause flooding.

“Certainly they can be a nuisance if they’re in the wrong place,” Currier said.

There is also concern that if beavers significantly alter how water moves through a stream, it could injure water rights.

Currier said he and his ranching colleagues are willing to listen to what the beaver scientists are recommending.

“The devil is always in the details,” he said. “But in headwaters areas, you could argue that they do more good than harm.”

The Colorado conference, slated for Oct. 20 and 22 in Avon, comes on the heels of similar confabs that have been held recently in California and New Mexico, Mallet said.

As drought and climate change cause widespread reductions in river flows and aquifer levels, researchers and others are re-evaluating how wetlands and rivers evolved. They are hopeful that the furry architects and general contractors who originally helped shape them can be restored and put to work again in a way that aids everyone, Marshall said.

“We built all of this infrastructure and managed land in a context that did not include beavers. As we’re changing how we view them culturally, there is an opportunity for co-existence,” Marshall said.

“People are starting to realize that when you have beavers in a stream reach you have nice green grass growing along the banks for your cattle. It’s a fascinating path that we are on. People are starting to see them in a new light,” Marshall said.

Jerd Smith is editor of Fresh Water News. She can be reached at 720-398-6474, via email at jerd@wateredco.org or @jerd_smith.

‘Shed 21 Watershed Summit, June 24, 2021 (in person), week of June 28 (online) — @DenverBotanic

Colorado River. Photo credit: Abby Burk via Audubon Rockies

Click here to register:

Watershed Summit

This year’s event will include panels and presentations on climate change, Colorado landscaping aesthetics, social change, community education programs, and much more! There will be a special keynote address from Leander Lacy, Interim Alliance Director of Denver Metro Nature Alliance and host of The Green Mind podcast.

Watershed Summit 2021, or “Shed ’21” as we like to call it, is produced through a collaborative partnership between the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Denver Water, Aurora Water, the One World One Water (OWOW) Center, Resource Central and Denver Botanic Gardens.

Morgan Conservation District Ag Bike Tour May 22, 2021

Photo credit: Morgan Conservation District

Click here to register:

Join us for our very first Ag Bike Tour!

About this event
Participants will meet and check-in at the Morgan Conservation District’s office at 8:30 a.m., with the ride beginning at 9:00 a.m. Tours on the ride include an irrigated corn producer, a dairy farmer, and a local vineyard. The tour will wrap up with lunch at the vineyard. This is a 7-mile ride, with approximately 3 miles back to town. Your registration includes an Ag Bike Tour water bottle and hat. Lunch will be provided by Blue Ribbon BBQ. Cost of tour is $30 and cost of lunch (without tour) is $20. RSVP by May 15th. Please contact us with any questions!

#Drought eases locally, but long term outlook still drier, warmer — The #Sterling Journal-Advocate

From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Jeff Rice):

Reservoirs, snowpack in good shape for coming South Platte irrigation season

Recent wet weather has lifted parts of northern Colorado, especially Logan County, out of drought status, but forecasters say that’s probably a temporary situation. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 60-day forecast for most of northern Colorado, including the South Platte Basin, is a 60-percent chance of less than normal precipitation and slightly higher than normal temperatures.

South Platte River Basin High/Low graph May 12, 2021 via the NRCS.

The runoff and storage situation for the Lower South Platte Valley seems particularly bright, with snowpack in the South Platte Basin higher than normal, thanks to late-winter snowstorms in the high country. Local reservoirs are full or nearly so, and should fill completely before demand for irrigation water begins. A spot check of the Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District’s point flow chart showed approximately 650 cubic feet per second flowing past Sterling at mid-day Wednesday.

Statistically, NOAA’s data site showed that, so far, 2021 is the 29th driest year to date in the 127 years that records have been kept, the county had the 53rd driest February over that same time period and, as of April 30, about 14.5 percent of people in Logan County still are affected by drought.