Report: Natural disasters have significantly increased in #Colorado over the last 40 years — OutThereColorado.com

The East Troublesome fire as it tore through the Trail Creek Estates subdivision on Oct. 21, 2020. (Brian White, Grand Fire Protection District)

Click the link to read the article on the OutThereColorado.com website (Tamera Twitty). Here’s an excerpt:

A recent data analysis by QuoteWizard.com, an insurance advice company with Lending Tree, has named Colorado a state with one of the largest increases of natural disasters over the last 40 years in the United States…

For a severe event to be considered a natural disaster, it has to cause serious disruptions within a community, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)…

The analysis found that Colorado has the third highest increase in natural disasters in the country. Between 1982 and 2001, Colorado experienced 12 natural disasters, according to Quote Wizard. Whereas, there were 45 natural in the state between 2002 and 2021, a 275 percent increase. According to the analysis, the cost of natural disaster recovery in the state has been between $20 billion and $50 billion dollars, since 1981. Colorado natural disasters can include major droughts, flooding, freezes, winter storms, severe storms, and wildfires.

Suing over #ClimateChange: Taking #FossilFuel companies to court — CBS News #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Change in sea level since the 1993. Blue indicates places where sea level has increased by up to 20 centimeters (8 inches); brown indicates places where sea level has dropped by the same amount. NOAA Climate.gov image, based on data from P. Thompson, UHSLC.

Click the link to read the article on the CBS News website. Here’s an excerpt:

If climate change were a disaster film, it would likely be accused of being too over-the-top: wildfires reducing entire towns to ashes, hurricanes swamping cities, droughts draining lakes and withering fields, and raging oceans redrawing the very maps of our coasts. And now, many cities and states are asking, who’s going to pay for all of this?

“This is real; we’re on the front line of climate change right here in Charleston,” said John Tecklenburg, the mayor of Charleston, South Carolina. The city’s been battered by an endless parade of floods due to sea level rise. Some desperate homeowners have resorted to raising their homes by several feet. So, the city is raising large parts of its existing sea wall, and the Army Corps of Engineers says Charleston should build another eight miles of wall. The city expects an estimated $3 billion in climate change-related costs…

Study after study has shown the companies’ carbon emissions from oil, coal and gas are major contributors to climate change. Charleston is one of more than two dozen cities, counties and states that are suing these companies (including ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and ConocoPhillips)…

Exxon’s private prediction of the future growth of carbon dioxide levels (left axis) and global temperature relative to 1982 (right axis). Elsewhere in its report, Exxon noted that the most widely accepted science at the time indicated that doubling carbon dioxide levels would cause a global warming of 3°C. Illustration: 1982 Exxon internal briefing document

The suits are modeled after the “Big Tobacco” cases of the 1990s, and accuse the companies and industry groups of making false and misleading claims about climate change…

William Tong, attorney general of Connecticut, said, “I’m suing ExxonMobil because they lied to us.”

Tong is suing ExxonMobil under the state’s consumer protection laws. He said internal company research done by Exxon and Mobil (which used to be separate companies) shows they were aware of the dangers of climate change since at least the 1980s.

“There’s a study from, I think, 1982 in which they produce a chart that shows, as the levels of carbon dioxide rise, the temperature of our atmosphere will rise,” said Tong. “And that chart is almost exactly right.”

And the suit also cites a 1988 internal draft memo from an Exxon spokesperson advising the company “emphasize the uncertainty” of climate science…He points to ads that look like editorials from ExxonMobil, as well as their executives’ own words, including the 1996 statement by Lee Raymond (then the CEO of Exxon) that “the scientific evidence remains inconclusive as to whether human activities affect the global climate.”

How rights of nature and wild rice could stop a pipeline — Grist

Anishinaabeg harvesting wild rice on Minnesotan lake around 1905. Source: http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/troufs/Buffalo/PB42.html (Minnesota Historical Society) Author: Unknown author Permission: Public Domain

Click the link to read the article on the Grist website (Joseph Lee). Here’s an excerpt:

Rights of Nature – an innovative legal movement that protects water, animals and ecosystems by giving them legal rights – might stop a pipeline.

In 2018, Frank Bibeau, an attorney for the White Earth Nation, helped the tribe write a law that recognized the rights of wild rice, which they call Manoomin, or “good berry”, to “exist, flourish, regenerate, and evolve.” The law relies on a section of an 1837 treaty between the Ojibwe and the U.S. government. In Minnesota, wild rice, and the waters it depends on, are in danger from climate change and the expansion of Line 3, a controversial pipeline operated by a Canadian energy company and fiercely opposed by Indigenous people and environmental activists. The pipeline’s proposed corridor would run directly through wild rice beds and could threaten the environmental health of the whole area. In 2021, he used the Rights of Manoomin law to sue the State of Minnesota over the construction of the pipeline.

“I couldn’t figure out how to get authority over them to compel them to do anything we might want to do. And right in my brain, you know, it just clicked,” Bibeau said. “Wild rice is mentioned specifically in the 1837 Treaty. It talks about how we retain the rights to hunt fish and gather wild rice on the lakes and rivers and lands that we’re ceding. Well, that’s huge.”

In a setback for the case in March, the White Earth Ojibwe Appellate Court dismissed the tribe’s own lawsuit. The ruling said that the court does not have jurisdiction over non-tribal member activities on off-reservation land. The case is still awaiting a decision from a Federal appeals court over that exact question.

Since Bibeau first developed Rights of Manoomin, other tribes have used it as a model. In 2019, the Yurok Tribe in Northern California adopted a resolution recognizing the rights of the Klamath River. In Seattle, the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe is suing the city over its hydroelectric dams on behalf of salmon. Bibeau believes that these two cases will be the next step in the growing Indigenous Rights of Nature movement and have the potential to lead to widespread use by tribes across the country.

Can the next generation of scientists help solve our dust on snow problem? — The #Durango Herald

The western boundary of Senator Beck Basin is pictured May 12, 2009, after a dust event. That year was an exceptionally dusty one, with 12 dust events. The basin has experienced five dust events so far this year.
CREDIT: COURTESY PHOTO BY THE CENTER FOR SNOW AND AVALANCHE STUDIES

Click the link to read the article on The Durango Herald website (Aedan Hannon). Here’s an excerpt:

Fort Lewis College students spent nearly 20 minutes digging a large snow pit until it was above their heads. As they sheared snow off the side of the pit walls, they revealed distinct layers of dust trapped in the snow…The students learned about dust on snow, snowpack and water resources while gaining field experience that will help guide them through their studies and into their careers…

The class first snowshoed to a monitoring site where Derry and Steltzer spoke about snow-water equivalent, the metric water managers use to estimate runoff in spring, and the need for more robust scientific monitoring to understand the impact of climate change on the region’s water resources…

Ecologist Heidi Steltzer evaluates the site of a 2018 wildfire within 10 miles of her Colorado home. Changes in snow affect the disturbance regime of U.S. mountain regions. (Credit: Joel Dyar)

“The goal was never for these SNOTEL (monitoring) sites to characterize long-term change in the snowpack. The goal was annual water supply, so they aren’t ideally located to tell the story of change over time,” [Heidi Steltzer] said.

Students then dug snow trenches to examine dust and learn some of the measurement techniques they would need if they decided to pursue careers in snow science. It was while measuring snow density and analyzing dust layers that Derry, who helps run the Colorado Dust-on-Snow program, broke down the impact of dust on snowpack and interconnected physics that ultimately lead to snowmelt.

‘Flash Droughts’ Coming on Faster, Global Study Shows — University of #Texas at Austin

Dry corn stalks in Iowa during the flash drought of summer 2012, which wiped out crops and caused $35.7 billion in losses. Credit: USDA.

Click the link to read the article on the University of Texas website (Monica Kortsha):

Just like flash floods, flash droughts come on fast — drying out soil in a matter of days to weeks. These events can wipe out crops and cause huge economic losses. And according to scientists, the speed at which they dry out the landscape has increased.

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Texas Tech University found that although the number of flash droughts has remained stable during the past two decades, more of them are coming on faster. Globally, the flash droughts that come on the fastest — sending areas into drought conditions within just five days — have increased by about 3%-19%. And in places that are especially prone to flash droughts — such as South Asia, Southeast Asia and central North America — that increase is about 22%-59%.

Rising global temperatures are probably behind the faster onset, said co-author and UT Jackson School Professor Zong-Liang Yang, who added that the study’s results underscore the importance of understanding flash droughts and preparing for their effects.

“Every year, we are seeing record-breaking warming episodes, and that is a good precursor to these flash droughts,” he said. “The hope and purpose [of this research] is to minimize the detrimental effects.”

The research was published in Nature Communications. The study was led by doctoral student Yamin Qing and Professor Shuo Wang, both of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

US Drought Monitor map July 10, 2012. A map of drought conditions across the United States in mid-July 2012, the peak of a flash drought that decimated crops in the Midwest. Credit: Richard Heim/ NCEI/NOAA

Flash droughts are relatively new to science, with the advancement of remote sensing technology during the past couple of decades helping reveal instances of soil rapidly drying out. This serves as the telltale sign of the onset of a flash drought and can make drought conditions appear seemingly out of the blue.

As the name suggests, flash droughts are short lived, usually lasting only a few weeks or months. But when they occur during critical growing periods, they can cause disasters. For example, in the summer of 2012, a flash drought in the central United States caused the corn crop to wither, leading to an estimated $35.7 billion in losses.

In this study, the scientists analyzed global hydroclimate data sets that use satellite soil moisture measurements to capture a global picture of flash drought and how it has changed during the past 21 years. The data showed that about 34%-46% of flash droughts came on in about five days. The rest emerge within a month, with more than 70% developing in half a month or less.

When they examined the droughts over time, they noticed the flash droughts happening more quickly.

The study also revealed the importance of humidity and variable weather patterns, with flash droughts becoming more likely when there’s a shift from humid to arid conditions. That makes regions that undergo seasonal swings in humidity — such as Southeast Asia, the Amazon Basin, and the East Coast and Gulf Coast of the United States — flash drought hot spots.

“We should pay close attention to the vulnerable regions with a high probability of concurrent soil drought and atmospheric aridity,” said Wang.

Mark Svoboda, the director of the National Drought Mitigation Center and originator of the term “flash drought,” said the advancement in drought-detecting technology and modeling tools — such as those used in this study — has led to growing awareness of the influence and impact of flash droughts. He said the next big step is translating this knowledge into on-the-ground planning.

“You can go back and watch that drought evolve in 2012 and then compare it to how that tool did,” said Svoboda, who was not part of the study. “We really have the stage well set to do a better job of tracking these droughts.”

The study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Hong Kong Research Grants Council.