#Snowpack and Streamflow Comparisons April 1, 2022 — @Northern_Water #runoff

Colorado-Big Thompson Project Map via Northern Water

Click the link to read the April 1, 2022 streamflow forecast on the Northern Water website.

Governor Polis Applauds Biden Administration, Sec. Vilsack on Securing Critical Investment in #Wildfire Risk Reduction Using Historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Funds

Smoke billows from the Cameron Peak Fire. Photo by Karina Puikkonen

Click the link to read the release on Governor Polis’ website:

Today, Governor Jared Polis released a statement following U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s announcement that $131 million in funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure law will begin work on the Forest Service’s 10-year strategy to protect communities and improve resilience in America’s forests.

“I’m excited about this $18 million in funding to help us fight wildfires and protect communities. We thank the Biden Administration, Secretary Vilsack, and the U.S. Forest Service for making this important wildfire-fighting investment in Colorado,” said Governor Polis.

Over the last three years, Colorado has experienced record natural disasters, from the three largest wildfires recorded in 2020 to the Marshall Fire in December 2021 – recorded as the most destructive in state history. In response, the Polis administration has acted swiftly to invest in wildfire suppression, the recovery of our lands and watersheds, as well as forward-thinking mitigation and forest health efforts.

During the last legislative session, the Governor signed into law significant investments, including roughly $88 million to help communities recover from and prevent future wildfire devastation, and a total of $50 million to support the implementation of Colorado’s State Water Plan and fund Colorado Water Conservation Board grants supporting local projects. Colorado is one of the states that will receive the initial investment, which spans 208,000 acres of wildfire risk reduction treatments in 10 landscapes. Other Western states to receive funding include Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Perspective | IPCC Paints a Bleak Picture for #Water – But There is a Way Forward — Circle of Blue

This irrigated parcel in Fruita is owned by Water Asset Management, a private equity group that has been accused of water speculation. A state work group has released its report on investment water speculation, but failed to come to a consensus or make recommendations to lawmakers.
CREDIT: BETHANY BLITZ/ASPEN JOURNALISM

Click the link to read the article on the Circle of Blue website (Brett Walton). Here’s an excerpt:

So, what role does the private sector play?

Despite their dark assessment, the IPCC scientists give us hope by saying “there is still time to act.” But how? Industry – from food production to mining, apparel manufacturing to high-tech – is collectively the largest user and influencer of freshwater resources globally. Along with governments, the private sector is an integral component of the water cycle and has much to lose as critical climate and water risks grow. This presents an opportunity for collective action.

Investors and companies are positioned to lead the world in the innovation and adaptation needed to respond to the twin systemic threats of water and climate crises. In practice, that means:

  • Investors must wake up to the reality that water is a material risk in their portfolios and develop a plan to address that risk. More information is needed to help a broader tent of investors fully understand how water risk impacts their portfolios. Providing evidence of the severe and systemic nature of industrial impacts to freshwater resources and identifying the worst offending sectors and practices would provide investors a “clear case” of the potential harm. An upcoming scientific report that Ceres is set to release in April will shed light on these areas to help accelerate understanding and action.
  • Investors must understand the intersection of climate and water risks and be ready to engage. From water supply, water quality, ecosystem protection, and sanitation to business governance integration, public policy engagement and multi-stakeholder collaboration, investors also need tools to understand how to best engage with companies they invest in – and how they can be a key player in halting the systemic harm those industries cause. Later this year, Ceres will formally launch the Valuing Water Finance Initiative for investors to engage key water users and polluters across the global economy to adopt and implement corporate expectations for valuing water.
  • Companies must identify their own water impacts and communicate to stakeholders their plans to address those risks. How industry responds to intensifying water scarcity and water quality risks globally will be critical to its long-term future and society at large. By focusing on, and investing in, these challenges today, companies can substantially reduce financial risks and bottom-line losses down the road. It is clear the status quo cannot continue. The same information that will help investors act on their risks can offer a framework for action and transparency to help companies respond and get ahead.

 

There is still time to act. Together, we can mobilize the power of the private sector to take unflinching action on the water crisis and preserve our precious water systems for generations to come.

Kirsten James is the water program director at Ceres. Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy.

Great Plains could see its most significant #drought in a decade: Seventy percent of the Southern Plains is experiencing a severe drought or worse — The Washington Post

US Drought Monitor map April 5, 2022.

Click the link to read the article on The Washington Post website (Becky Bolinger). Here’s an excerpt:

The Plains are no stranger to drought, with severe drought occurring around seven times in the last 20 years. But the 2012 drought period represents the worst drought for many who have lived in the area for their entire lifetimes. Now they may face another one like that.

Drought impacted corn. Water stress can lead to insufficient water supply for cities, agriculture, and vegetation. Dry vegetation may facilitate the propagation and increase the risk of wildfires.

This summer, the region could be at risk for another extreme drought. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 70 percent of the Southern Plains region is currently in a severe drought or worse (D2+). This is up from just 7 percent six months ago. Precipitation deficits tell one part of the story. The Southern Plains area has received between 2 and 8 inches less than average for the last six months. Evaporative demand, or the potential loss of water from the surface, has increased stress on the vegetation, which can dry them out more quickly.

Precipitation deficits tell one part of the story. The Southern Plains area has received between 2 and 8 inches less than average for the last six months. Evaporative demand, or the potential loss of water from the surface, has increased stress on the vegetation, which can dry them out more quickly.

As a result, farmers have abandoned a large amount of winter wheat, affecting both supplies in the country as well as potential exports. Winter wheat conditions for the country are the poorest they have been in the last 20 years for the beginning of April. In the Plains, the amount of winter wheat in good to excellent condition is a mere 30 percent (down from 53 percent last year), and the amount in poor to very poor conditions is 36 percent, up 20 percentage points from last year…

As a result, farmers have abandoned a large amount of winter wheat, affecting both supplies in the country as well as potential exports. Winter wheat conditions for the country are the poorest they have been in the last 20 years for the beginning of April. In the Plains, the amount of winter wheat in good to excellent condition is a mere 30 percent (down from 53 percent last year), and the amount in poor to very poor conditions is 36 percent, up 20 percentage points from last year…

The National Interagency Fire Center is forecasting above normal risk for significant wildfires for April. A higher risk for significant wildfires continues across the Southern Plains and spreads into the Northern Plains throughout the spring and summer.

A higher risk for significant wildfires continues across the Southern Plains and spreads into the Northern Plains throughout the spring and summer. (National Interagency Fire Center)

Conditions are likely to worsen before they get better, according to the Climate Prediction Center’s seasonal outlook for April, May and June. In the Texas panhandle, there’s a 56 percent chance that the season will be drier than average, and only an 11 percent chance of wetter-than-average conditions…

What does this outlook mean as we get to summer?

Dry conditions will further increase precipitation deficits and extend the length of time it will take to recover. Warm conditions will increase evaporative losses to the atmosphere, continue to dry out soils and exacerbate the severity of the drought. Those dry soils will feed into the dry atmosphere in the summer, inhibit the development of beneficial storms and also increase the frequency of brutally hot days.

Increase in atmospheric #methane set another record during 2021: Carbon dioxide levels also record a big jump — NOAA #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Air samples from NOAA’s Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii provide important data for climate scientists around the world. On Thursday, NOAA announced that analysis of data from their global sampling network showed that levels of the potent greenhouse gas methane recorded the largest annual increase ever observed in 2021, while carbon dioxide continued to increase at historically high rates. (NOAA)

Click the link to read the release on the NOAA website (Theo Stein):

For the second year in a row, NOAA scientists observed a record annual increase in atmospheric levels of methane, a powerful, heat-trapping greenhouse gas that’s the second biggest contributor to human-caused global warming after carbon dioxide.

NOAA’s preliminary analysis showed the annual increase in atmospheric methane during 2021 was 17 parts per billion (ppb), the largest annual increase recorded since systematic measurements began in 1983. The increase during 2020 was 15.3 ppb. Atmospheric methane levels averaged 1,895.7 ppb during 2021, or around 162% greater than pre-industrial levels. From NOAA’s observations, scientists estimate global methane emissions in 2021 are 15% higher than the 1984-2006 period.

CH4 trend: This graph shows globally-averaged, monthly mean atmospheric methane abundance determined from marine surface sites since 1983. Values for the last year are preliminary. (NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory)

Meanwhile, levels of carbon dioxide also continue to increase at historically high rates. The global surface average for carbon dioxide during 2021 was 414.7 parts per million (ppm), which is an increase of 2.66 ppm over the 2020 average. This marks the 10th consecutive year that carbon dioxide increased by more than 2 parts per million, which represents the fastest sustained rate of increase in the 63 years since monitoring began.

CO2 trend: This graph shows the monthly mean abundance of carbon dioxide globally averaged over marine surface sites since 1980. (NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory)

“Our data show that global emissions continue to move in the wrong direction at a rapid pace,” said Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., NOAA Administrator. “The evidence is consistent, alarming and undeniable. We need to build a Climate Ready Nation to adapt for what’s already here and prepare for what’s to come. At the same time, we can no longer afford to delay urgent and effective action needed to address the cause of the problem — greenhouse gas pollution.”

Carbon dioxide remains the biggest climate change threat

While there’s been scientific debate on the cause of the ongoing surge in methane levels, carbon dioxide pollution has always been the primary driver of human-caused climate change. An estimated 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide were emitted into the atmosphere last year by human activity; roughly 640 million tons of methane were emitted during the same period. The atmospheric residence time of methane is approximately nine years, whereas some of the carbon dioxide emitted today will continue to warm the planet for thousands of years.

Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are now comparable to where they were during the mid-Pliocene epoch link, around 4.3 million years ago. During that period, sea level was about 75 feet higher than today, the average temperature was 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than in pre-industrial times, and studies indicate large forests occupied areas of the Arctic that are now tundra.

CO2 data: This graph shows annual mean carbon dioxide growth rates, based on globally averaged marine surface data, since the start of systematic monitoring in 1959. The horizontal lines indicate the decadal averages of the growth rate. (NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory)

“The effect of carbon dioxide emissions is cumulative,” said Pieter Tans, senior scientist with the Global Monitoring Laboratory. “About 40% of the Ford Model T emissions from 1911 are still in the air today. We’re halfway to doubling the abundance of carbon dioxide that was in the atmosphere at the start of the Industrial Revolution.”

Control of many methane sources technically possible today

While carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for much longer than methane, methane is roughly 25 times more powerful at trapping heat in the atmosphere, and has an important short-term influence on the rate of climate change.

Methane in the atmosphere is generated by many different sources, such as fossil fuel production, transport and use, from the decay of organic matter in wetlands, and as a byproduct of digestion by ruminant animals such as cows. Determining which specific sources are responsible for variations in annual increases of methane is complex, but scientists estimate that fossil fuel production and use contributes roughly 30% of the total methane emissions. These industrial sources of methane are relatively simple to pinpoint and control using current technology.

“Reducing methane emissions is an important tool we can use right now to lessen the impacts of climate change in the near term, and rapidly reduce the rate of warming,” Spinrad said. “Let’s not forget that methane also contributes to ground-level ozone formation, which causes roughly 500,000 premature deaths each year around the world.”

Previous NOAA methane research that utilized stable carbon isotopic analysis performed by the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado indicates that biological sources of methane such as wetlands or ruminant agriculture are a primary driver of post-2006 increases. NOAA scientists are concerned that the increase in biological methane may be the first signal of a feedback loop caused in part by more rain over tropical wetlands that would largely be beyond humans’ ability to control.

“Reducing fossil methane emissions is a necessary step toward mitigating climate change,” said Xin Lan, a CIRES offsite link scientist working at NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory. “But the extreme longevity of the carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere means that we need to aggressively reduce fossil fuel pollution to zero as soon as possible if we want to avoid the worst impacts from a changing climate.”

NOAA’s air sampling monitors the pulse of the planet

NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory annually collects more than 15,000 air samples from monitoring stations around the world and analyzes them in a state-of-the-science laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. Every spring, NOAA calculates the global average levels of four primary greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and sulfur hexafluoride — observed during the previous year.

The global averages were calculated using air samples from a subset of sites from the Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, which is composed of NOAA’s four baseline observatories in Hawaii, Alaska, American Samoa and the South Pole, and from samples collected at about 50 other cooperative sampling sites around the world. Air samples used for the calculation are predominantly of well-mixed marine boundary layer air, representative of a large region of the atmosphere.

Observations sustained over many decades, by NOAA and others, show that the rate of carbon dioxide increase has tracked global emissions. Despite international pledges to reduce emissions, climate scientists have seen no measurable progress in reducing greenhouse gas pollution.

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work to reverse these trends, and clearly that’s not happening,” said Ariel Stein, director of the Global Monitoring Laboratory. “So it is crucial that we continue to sustain integrated and robust monitoring and verification systems to help assess the current state of the atmospheric greenhouse gas burden, as well as determine the effectiveness of future greenhouse gas emission reduction measures.”