It’s official: July 2021 was #Earth’s hottest month on record — NOAA #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Photo collage credit: NOAA

From NOAA:

July 2021 has earned the unenviable distinction as the world’s hottest month ever recorded, according to new global data released today by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

“In this case, first place is the worst place to be,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “July is typically the world’s warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded. This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.”

July 2021 by the numbers

  • Around the globe: the combined land and ocean-surface temperature was 1.67 degrees F (0.93 of a degree C) above the 20th-century average of 60.4 degrees F (15.8 degrees C), making it the hottest July since records began 142 years ago. It was 0.02 of a degree F (0.01 of a degree C) higher than the previous record set in July 2016, which was then tied in 2019 and 2020.
  • The Northern Hemisphere: the land-surface only temperature was the highest ever recorded for July, at an unprecedented 2.77 degrees F (1.54 degrees C) above average, surpassing the previous record set in 2012.
  • Regional records: Asia had its hottest July on record, besting the previous record set in 2010; Europe had its second-hottest July on record—tying with July 2010 and trailing behind July 2018; and North America, South America, Africa and Oceania all had a top-10 warmest July.
  • Extreme heat and global climate change

    With last month’s data, it remains very likely that 2021 will rank among the world’s 10-warmest years on record, according to NCEI’s Global Annual Temperature Rankings Outlook.

    Extreme heat detailed in NOAA’s monthly NCEI reports is also a reflection of the long-term changes outlined in a major report released this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change offsite link.

    “Scientists from across the globe delivered the most up-to-date assessment of the ways in which the climate is changing,” Spinrad said in a statement. “It is a sobering IPCC report that finds that human influence is, unequivocally, causing climate change, and it confirms the impacts are widespread and rapidly intensifying.”

    A map of the world plotted with some of the most significant climate events that occurred during July 2021. Please see the story below as well as more details in the report summary from NOAA NCEI at (NOAA NCEI)

    Other notable highlights from NOAA’s July global climate report

    Sea ice coverage varied by hemisphere: The Arctic sea ice coverage (extent) for July 2021 was the fourth-smallest for July in the 43-year record, according to analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center offsite link. Only July 2012, 2019 and 2020 had a smaller sea ice extent. Antarctic sea ice extent was above average in July — the largest July sea ice extent since 2015 and the eighth highest on record.
    The tropics were busier than average: In the Atlantic basin, the season’s earliest fifth-named storm, Elsa, formed on July 1. The Eastern North and Western Pacific basins each logged three named storms. Overall, global tropical cyclone activity this year so far (through July) has been above-normal for the number of named storms.

    #Aspen partners with #Colorado Water Trust to boost #RoaringForkRiver flows — Aspen Daily News #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

    Colorado Water Trust partnered with the city of Aspen on August 10, 2021 to reduce diversions from the Roaring Fork River at the Wheeler Ditch to help boost river flows. The project added up to three cubic feet per second to the river’s flow, which will help maintain sustainable water levels. A view of the Wheeler Ditch headgate, looking upriver on the Roaring Fork River. Photo credit: Brent Gardner-Smith / Aspen Journalism

    From The Aspen Daily News (Megan Webber):

    A 10-year agreement between the city of Aspen and Colorado Water Trust will help keep the Roaring Fork River flowing at a healthy rate through the remainder of the summer season…

    The project is meant to boost river flows and added up to three cubic feet per second of water to the river’s flow, which will help maintain sustainable water levels, according to a press release from Colorado Water Trust…

    “The Roaring Fork is bone low,” Aspen’s utility resource manager Steve Hunter said. “I think every little bit helps — every little bit of water that we can leave in the Roaring Fork, anything we can do to help the fish, the wildlife, the recreation, all those things. Three cfs is a very small number, but we’re doing the best we can with what we have.”

    The city uses a headgate at the Wheeler Ditch to store water, and on Tuesday, staff members adjusted it to allow one cfs into the ditch so that the rest of the water stays in the river, Hunter said. He added that it’s important for everyone in the Roaring Fork Valley, not only in Aspen, to do their best to conserve water, especially in back-to-back drought years.

    “As we adapt to climate change in Colorado, we’re fortunate to have flexible water sharing tools like the one that allows the city to leave a portion of their Wheeler Ditch water right in the Roaring Fork River,” Colorado Water Trust Program Director Mickey O’Hara said in the press release. “These tools allow communities to build flow restoration projects that support the natural environment while boosting flows for the benefit of the local community.”

    Map of the Roaring Fork River drainage basin in western Colorado, USA. Made using USGS data. By Shannon1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

    Aspinall Unit operations update: Aspinall Unit Operation Coordination Meeting August 19th, 2021 #GunnisonRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

    From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

    The next Aspinall Unit Operation Coordination Meeting will be conducted using Microsoft Teams (link). We are again using this format as an alternative to allow interactive participation, as we are not yet able to meet in person. No special software is required. Please contact me at or (970) 248-0652 if you have any questions. The proposed agenda:

    Aspinall Unit Operation
    Coordination Meeting
    August 19th, 2021

  • Introductions and Purpose of Meeting
  • Gunnison Basin Water Supply Outlook – (CBRFC)
  • Weather Outlook – Aldis Strautins (NWS)
  • DROA Overview – Ed Warner (Reclamation)
  • Aspinall Unit Operations – Erik Knight (Reclamation)
  • American Whitewater Request
  • Special Flow Requests and Discussion
  • Reports of Agencies and Organizations – All
  • Conclusions
  • (Next meeting date – January 20th?)
  • R.I.P. Nanci Griffith: “Oh I wish it would rain and wash my face clean”

    Nanci Griffith. Photo credit: Tunefind

    From The New York Times (Gavin Edwards):

    Nanci Griffith, a Grammy-winning singer and songwriter who kept one foot in folk and the other in country and was blessed with a soaring voice equally at home in both genres, died on Friday. She was 68…

    While Ms. Griffith often wrote political and confessional material, her best-loved songs were closely observed tales of small-town life, sometimes with painful details in the lyrics, but typically sung with a deceptive prettiness. Her song “Love at the Five and Dime,” for example, tracks a couple’s romance from its teenage origins when “Rita was 16 years/Hazel eyes and chestnut hair/She made the Woolworth counter shine” through old age, when “Eddie traveled with the barroom bands/till arthritis took his hands/Now he sells insurance on the side.”

    The song was a country hit in 1986 — but for Kathy Mattea, not for Ms. Griffith. Similarly, while Ms. Griffith was the first person to record “From a Distance,” written by Julie Gold, the song was later a smash hit for Bette Midler.

    Ms. Griffith sometimes affected a folkie casualness toward mainstream success. She told Rolling Stone in 1993 that she didn’t mind that Ms. Mattea had the hit version of “Love at the Five and Dime”: “It feels great that Kathy has to sing that for the rest of her life and I don’t.”

    Nanci Caroline Griffith was born on July 6, 1953, in Seguin, Texas, about 35 miles northeast of San Antonio, to Marlin Griffith, a book publisher and singer in barbershop quartets, and Ruelen Strawser, a real estate agent and amateur actress. “I come from a basically really dysfunctional family,” she told Texas Monthly in 1999. “I had very, very irresponsible parents.”

    When she was a child, her family moved to Austin…

    By the time she was 12, Ms. Griffith was writing songs and playing in Austin clubs. A formative experience came when, as a teenager, she saw a performance by the melancholy Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt; she particularly identified with his song “Tecumseh Valley,” about a doomed young woman named Caroline, and it became a staple of her songbook.

    She told The New York Times in 1988: “When I was young I listened to Odetta records for hours and hours. Then when I started high school, Loretta Lynn came along. Before that, country music hadn’t had a guitar-playing woman who wrote her own songs.”

    After attending the University of Texas, Ms. Griffith stayed in Austin. She worked as a kindergarten teacher while she pursued music, performing alongside the likes of Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. She put aside finger paints when she won a songwriting award at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas; she released her first album, “There’s a Light Beyond These Woods,” in 1978. It was the first of four folk albums she would make for tiny labels in an eight-year span, during which she also toured constantly…

    Ms. Griffith was a living link not just to earlier songwriters, but also to the music of Ireland (she played with the Chieftains) and Texas (she toured with the surviving members of Buddy Holly’s band, the Crickets)…

    She kept playing through two bouts of cancer and a painful case of Dupuyten’s contracture, an abnormal thickening of the skin on the hand, which severely limited the mobility of her fingers…

    In 1993, at age 39, when she had not yet won a Grammy and her commercial prospects were uncertain, Ms. Griffith told Rolling Stone what motivated her:

    “Longevity — I guess that’s the brass ring for me. I still want to hear my music coming back to me when I’m 65.”

    #ClimateChange is drying out many part-time streams in the United States — Science Magazine

    This intermittent stream is in a flowing state in April (left) and a dry state in September (right). North Fork of Bakers Fork, Wayne National Forest, Ohio, looking upstream. Photo credit: EPA

    From Science Magazine (Erik Stokstad):

    Small streams that dry up for part of the year are easy to overlook. But these intermittent streams are everywhere, making up more than half of Earth’s waterways. They help purify surface water and provide crucial habitat for creatures such as the Sonoran Desert toad, fairy shrimp, and Wilson’s warbler. Now, a study has found that ephemeral streams across the continental United States have become less reliable over the past 40 years, likely as a result of climate change. Some are dry for 100 days longer per year than in the 1980s. “That’s really shocking,” says Sarah Null, a watershed scientist at Utah State University.

    The findings, reported last month in Environmental Research Letters, come from a study of data collected between 1980 and 2017 by flow gauges on 540 intermittent streams around the United States. Most of the gauges were on small waterways in river headwaters, but a few tracked large rivers that are intermittent in places, such as the Rio Grande, which flows sporadically in New Mexico and Texas. The sample covered just a small fraction of intermittent streams, the authors note, and left out some states, such as Nebraska and Maine, that don’t have any long-term gauges on these streams. Still, the analysis revealed some eye-opening regional shifts, says Sam Zipper, one of the authors and an ecohydrologist with the Kansas Geological Survey.

    More than half of the gauges showed changes in the streams’ flow patterns since 1980. Some now shrivel earlier in the year and remain dry for longer, for example, or they dwindle more quickly than before. At some 7% of gauges, dry periods expanded by 100 days or more.

    The drying trend is clearest in arid regions, such as the Southwest. But even in the Southeast, which is relatively wet, streams are drying earlier and staying dry longer. In contrast, in the northern United States ephemeral rivers are now flowing longer. One possible reason: Winters are warmer and shorter, meaning frozen landscapes thaw earlier, allowing streams to flow.

    In some cases, human activities such as operating dams, irrigation, and groundwater pumping could be contributing to dewatering. But a warming climate appears to be “the overarching organizer” of the shifts, Zipper says. “I definitely didn’t expect the pattern to be so regionally clear.”

    Navajo Dam operations update (August 14, 2021): Releases to bump to 900 cfs #SanJuanRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

    The San Juan River, below Navajo Reservoir. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

    From email from Reclamation (Susan Novak Behery):

    In response to decreasing flows in the critical habitat reach, the Bureau of Reclamation has scheduled an increase in the release from Navajo Dam from 800 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 900 cfs on Saturday, August 14th, starting at 4:00 AM. Releases are made for the authorized purposes of the Navajo Unit, and to attempt to maintain a target base flow through the endangered fish critical habitat reach of the San Juan River (Farmington to Lake Powell).

    The San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program recommends a target base flow of between 500 cfs and 1,000 cfs through the critical habitat area. The target base flow is calculated as the weekly average of gaged flows throughout the critical habitat area from Farmington to Lake Powell.

    Work Group Submits Anti-Speculation Law Report to Water Resources Review Committee — #Colorado Department of Natural Resources

    From email from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (Chis Arend):

    On behalf of the SB20-048 Work Group, the Department of Natural Resources delivered the Work Group’s Anti-Speculation Law Report to the members of the Water Resources Review Committee today. The report, titled SB 20-048 – Report of the Work Group to Explore Ways to Strengthen Current Water Anti-Speculation Law, is the culmination of the Work Group’s efforts to fulfill the provisions of SB20-048.

    As directed by the General Assembly, Dan Gibbs, the Executive Director of the Department of Natural Resources, convened the Work Group to explore ways to strengthen current water anti-speculation law. The Work Group included a diverse collection of Coloradans from the legal, nonprofit, municipal, and agricultural communities and from a variety of water basins throughout Colorado, and was co-chaired by Scott Steinbrecher, Assistant Deputy Attorney General and Kevin Rein, State Engineer as members.

    The Work Group Co-chairs provided the following statement on the release of the final report:

    ”The quality and comprehensive nature of the report is the direct result of the extraordinary effort of the Work Group, which was composed of members with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. The diversity in perspectives and each member’s willingness to contribute based on their experience and unique background was what led to a final report that will be informative to the Water Resources Review Committee, giving them the information needed in order to decide whether to make changes to Colorado’s body of anti-speculation law.”

    Click here for a copy of the report.