Earth had its 6th-warmest August on record — NOAA: Antarctic sea ice set record low; Northern Hemisphere saw its 2nd-hottest summer #ActOnClimate

After months of darkness, the sun rose briefly at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, on August 7, 2022. The flat white visible beyond the land is the annual sea ice that forms on top of McMurdo Sound. The darker area is open ocean water. By August, the annual sea ice normally is five or six feet thick and will extend 30 or 40 miles north before open water is visible. It is unusual to have open water this far south in August. Antarctic sea ice coverage hit a record low for the third consecutive month in August 2022. (Steve McGowan/National Science Foundation/Antarctic Photo Library/Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Click the link to read the article on the NOAA website:

Globally, August 2022 was the sixth-warmest August in the 143-year NOAA record. The year-to-date (January-August) global surface temperature was the sixth-warmest on record. According to NCEI’s Global Annual Temperature Outlook, there is a greater than 99% chance that 2022 will rank among the 10-warmest years on record but less than 11% chance that it will rank among the top five.

This monthly summary, developed by scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making.

Monthly Global Temperature 

The August global surface temperature was 1.62°F (0.90°C) above the 20th-century average of 60.1°F (15.6°C). This was the sixth-warmest August in the 143-year record. August 2022 marked the 46th consecutive August and the 452nd consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th-century average. The Northern Hemisphere August temperature tied with 2020 as the warmest for August on record at 2.16°F (1.20°C) above average.

North America and Europe each had their warmest August on record. Asia had its fourth-warmest August on record. South America, Africa and the Oceania region had August temperatures that were above average, but not among their top 10 warmest on record.

Temperatures were above average throughout most of North America, Europe, and southern and southeastern Asia, and across parts of northern Africa, northern South America, the Arabian Peninsula, western Asia and northern Oceania. Parts of the northwestern U.S., southwestern Canada, Spain, Italy, China, southeast Asia and New Zealand experienced record-warm temperatures for August. Sea surface temperatures were above average across much of the Gulf of Mexico and the northern, western and southwestern Pacific, as well as parts of the northern and southern Atlantic oceans.

Temperatures were near- to cooler-than-average throughout most of South America and across parts of central Asia. Consistent with La Niña, sea surface temperatures were below average over much of the south-central, central, and eastern tropical Pacific. None of the world’s surface had a record-cold temperature in August.

Seasonal Global Temperature

The June-August 2022 global land and ocean surface temperature was 1.60°F (0.89°C) above the 20th-century average of 60.1°F (15.6°C) and tied with 2015 and 2017 as the fifth-warmest June-August period in the 143-year record. The five warmest June-August periods on record have occurred since 2015. 

The June-August period is defined as the Northern Hemisphere’s meteorological summer and the Southern Hemisphere’s meteorological winter. The Northern Hemisphere summer 2022 temperature was the second-warmest summer on record at 2.07°F (1.15°C) above average. Summer of 2020 was warmer by only 0.05°F (0.03°C). Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere had its 10th-warmest winter on record.

Regionally, Europe had its warmest meteorological summer in the 113-year continental record. Asia and North America each had their second-warmest June-August on record, while Africa had its 11th-warmest June-August (tied with 2002) on record. South America and Oceania had above-average June-August periods, but they did not rank among their top 10 on record.

Sea Ice

Globally, August 2022 saw the fifth-lowest August sea ice extent on record. 

Arctic sea ice extent in August averaged 2.31 million square miles, which is about 467,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average. This marks the 13th-smallest August extent in the 44-year record. Sea ice extent was well below average in the Barents, Chukchi, Laptev, Kara, and Greenland seas, and the Hudson Bay. Sea ice extent for August was not above average anywhere in the Arctic this month. 

For the third consecutive month, Antarctica set a record low sea ice extent since records began in 1979. The August 2022 Antarctic sea ice extent was 6.55 million square miles, or about 290,000 square miles below average. 

Global Tropical Cyclones

Nine named storms occurred across the globe in August. Four of those reached tropical cyclone strength (74 mph), including Super Typhoon Hinnamnor, the first Category 5 tropical cyclone of 2022. August 2022 had no named tropical cyclone in the Atlantic, which is only the third August since 1950 to have no such activity. The Augusts of 1961 and 1997 were the only others to also finish with no activity in the Atlantic. This August marks only the seventh year since 1950 to have no hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean through August 31. 

For a more complete summary of climate conditions and events, see our August 2022 Global Climate Report.

#Colorado Water Trust and Cold Mountain Ranch Partner to Bolster Flows in #CrystalRiver #RoaringForkRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Helms Ditch Headgate. Photo credit: Colorado Water Trust

Here’s the release from the Colorado Water Trust (Alyson Meyer Gould, Bill Fales and Marj Perry):

On the 13th of September, 2022, Cold Mountain Ranch, with compensation from Colorado Water Trust, is boosting streamflows in the Crystal River, which is suffering from low flows during this hot and dry summer. This is the first year of implementation in a second pilot program with Colorado Water Trust and Cold Mountain Ranch to add flow to the River during dry years. The agreement compensates the Cold Mountain Ranch owners, Bill Fales and Marj Perry, for leaving their irrigation water in the Crystal River when it needs it most.

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,

The Crystal River drops out of the Elk Mountains near Marble and flows north to its confluence with the Roaring Fork River in Carbondale. The river supports a number of traditional ranching operations as well as towns, recreationalists, and fish populations. Cold Mountain Ranch relies on the Crystal River to irrigate grass meadows that support its cow-calf operation. Under the agreement, the Water Trust monitors flows in the river. When flows fall to 40 cubic feet per second (cfs) in August and September, the ranch may voluntarily decide to cease diversion from the Crystal River in August through October. Colorado Water Trust determines the amount of water left in the natural stream and then pays the ranch $250 per cfs per day for up to 20 days each year. Once streamflows reach 55 cfs in the River (based on a 3-day rolling average), payments cease, but should flow again drop below 55 cfs, diversions can stop again and compensation resume. The pilot agreement can restore up to 6 cfs in the Crystal River.

In 2018, Colorado Water Trust and Cold Mountain Ranch signed a similar three-year pilot agreement that ended in 2020. Unfortunately, within this initial three-year period, Colorado Water Trust and Cold Mountain Ranch were unable to run the project. In 2018, the Crystal River’s flows were too low to implement the agreement – there was not enough water available to result in significant benefits instream. In 2019, the river was high enough to avoid triggering the agreement during the timeframe of the agreement. Although it flirted with the low flow trigger in the late fall, the timing was out of range for the agreement. And in 2020, because of dry and hot conditions and impacts to their hay crop, Colorado Water Trust’s partners at Cold Mountain Ranch needed to use as much water as possible to maximize their late season production and keep their ranching operation sustainable.

Colorado Water Trust and Cold Mountain Ranch’s initial three-year pilot agreement was the first crack at a highly customized, market-based solution that works for agriculture and rivers on the Crystal River, and offered lessons for the renewal and re-tooling of that initial agreement. In this new contract, the partners tried to account for drier years and changing climatic conditions, as well as the economic needs of the Ranch. The changes include a $5,000 signing bonus to support agricultural operations, additional payment and flexibility for coordination, and extending potential coordination into October.

“Although we certainly wish conditions were wetter, we are excited for a chance to run the program. On one hand it enables an active, family-owned ranching operation to use its water rights portfolio in a new and flexible way. On the other hand, it keeps water in the river when it is most in need. It checks the boxes for the definition of a win-win solution,” Alyson Meyer Gould, Staff Attorney, Colorado Water Trust.

The legal and technical framework created by Colorado Water Trust and informed by local interests and support from Lotic Hydrological, has the potential, if successful, to have far-reaching implications. In the end, it brings environmental benefits to the river without affecting enrolled ranches’ long-term sustainability. Thus, the project will support both people and the environment.

The Water Trust would like to thank Cold Mountain Ranch, Public Counsel of the Rockies, the Roaring Fork Conservancy, Lotic Hydrological, WestWater Research, the Colorado River Water Conservation District, Pitkin County, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, the Aspen Skiing Company Environment Foundation, Catena Foundation, and the stakeholders of the Crystal River Management Plan for making this project possible.

The #ColoradoRiver Is Dying. Can Its Aquatic Dinosaurs Be Saved? — Mother Jones Magazine #COriver #aridification

Click the link to read the article on the Mother Jones website (Stephanie Mencimer). Click through and read the whole article, here’s an excerpt:

Found nowhere else in the world, the native razorback has occupied the waterways of the Colorado River basin for at least 3 million years, one reason why Olsen says they’re known as the “dinosaurs” of the Colorado. Known as “detritivores,” the bottom-feeding fish were once an important part of the river’s food chain because they nosh on dead plant and animal matter that might otherwise build up and cause disease while returning essential nutrients to the ecosystem. The fish have adapted to the harsh monsoon-to-drought cycles of the desert rivers that flood with melted mountain snowpack in the spring and are parched in the late summer. Razorback suckers can grow up to three feet long, 80 pounds, and live for 50 or 60 years. But such geriatric monster fish are rare in the wild today.

The native fish have not fared so well over the past century since humans began trying to make the western desert bloom by damming the Colorado and its tributaries, a watershed that was once one of the most biologically diverse in North America. “They’re a bellwether for the health of the entire river ecosystem, from Wyoming to the Gulf of California,” says Taylor McKinnon, senior public lands advocate at the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity…

The US Fish and Wildlife Service first listed the razorback as endangered in 1991, and the species would be extinct in the Upper Basin but for the hatchery program, which was established in 1996 as part of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program and is funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The program has been successful enough that last year, FWS proposed downlisting the razorback from “endangered” to merely “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. But the extreme mega-drought of the past two years makes that proposal seem wildly optimistic…

Meanwhile, the biggest ongoing threat to the Colorado’s endangered fish is other, nonnative fish. Only 12 fish are native to the Upper Colorado River Basin, Breen says. But now more than 50 species compete in the rivers. Many that were intentionally introduced to promote sport fishing are highly predatory in a way the razorback and others have not evolved to survive…The recovery program spends more than $2 million a year trying to eliminate the non-native fish from the Green River and elsewhere in the system—a move that is not always popular with local anglers who like to fish for the bass. “For the record: I love smallmouth bass,” says Breen. “I grew up fishing for smallmouth bass in the Midwest. But that’s where they’re supposed to be. Bass are very predacious, and they’re not supposed to be in that river.”

#Nevada again looks to deep #conservation as the #ColoradoRiver’s reservoirs dwindle — The Nevada Independent

The Las Vegas Wash(Opens another site in new window) is the primary channel through which the Las Vegas Valley’s excess water returns to Lake Mead. Contributing approximately 2 percent of the water in Lake Mead, the water flowing through the Wash consists of urban runoff, shallow groundwater, storm water and releases from the valley’s four water reclamation facilities. Photo credit: Southern Nevada Water Authority

Click the link to read the article on the Nevada Independent [Nevada’s only statewide nonprofit newsroom] website (Daniel Rothberg):

Only a few miles from the Las Vegas Strip, in the Mojave Desert, is an unlikely scene: A county park with walking trails and thick vegetation that surround a vibrant rush of flowing water. 

Known as the Las Vegas Wash, the water running through this channel is a crucial part of how Nevada has managed to keep its net Colorado River use below its allocation, despite booming population growth and two decades of persistent drought, worsened by a changing climate. 

Every time a shower or a faucet is turned on in Las Vegas, the water flowing down the drain is treated at wastewater plants and recycled. The treated water is discharged into the wash, which flows into Lake Mead, a declining Colorado River reservoir held back by the Hoover Dam. Once there, the water can be used for a second time, effectively increasing Nevada’s overall supply. 

“It allows Las Vegas to exist in its present form,” said John Hiatt, a conservationist who sits on a coordination committee for the wash. “[Without it], we’d be half our size and really struggling.”

When the Colorado River Compact was negotiated in the early 1900s, only about 5,000 people lived in Clark County, home to Las Vegas. Few envisioned the massive growth that has turned the desert into a sprawling paved landscape of nearly 2.3 million people — and growing. Today, about 74 percent of all Nevadans live in Clark County, making it the state’s economic center.

The laws governing the Colorado River give Nevada the smallest cut of water: 1.8 percent, or just 300,000 acre-feet (an acre foot is the amount of water needed to fill an acre to a depth of one foot). The small share has meant Nevada has long had to live on a tight water budget and rely on conservation measures that are only now being considered by other Western states. 

Nevada has one main Colorado River user: Las Vegas. It accounts for more than 90 percent of the state’s diversions, with additional water going to the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, whose rights were recognized in a case known as Arizona v. California, and other water users in Nevada.

For decades, Las Vegas has relied on wastewater recycling and removing water-guzzling grass to stretch and conserve its small Colorado River share. But even with proactive management, Las Vegas, like other cities, faces challenges and uncertainties when it comes to future growth. 

“We still have some room with the water resources we have today,” said Assemblyman Howard Watts, a Democrat who has worked on water issues for years, including in the Legislature. “But eventually we’re going to reach a point where we’re going to go past that limit and that’s when we really have to consider what a sustainable path is for Southern Nevada moving forward.”

Many of the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s future planning scenarios are premised on an ability to collaborate with other states to augment Las Vegas’s current supply. Yet negotiations over the Colorado River have become increasingly difficult for the seven states that rely on the shrinking river and its reservoirs, including Lake Mead, which has fallen to critically low levels. 

Nevada, even though it has a small slice of the Colorado River, has a huge stake in those talks. Las Vegas is reliant on the Colorado River. It’s the source of about 90 percent of the city’s water supply. The remainder comes from a local groundwater aquifer, which was historically overused.

Any other water in Nevada is far away. For years, Las Vegas had looked to import rural eastern Nevada groundwater hundreds of miles away as a potential supply. But local water managers shelved the controversial plan in 2020 amid legal challenges and concerns about environmental impacts. While it still owns ranches in eastern Nevada, the water authority has said its focus is on supplementing its supply through collaborations, including a recycling project in California. 

How Southern Nevada has managed to grow, thus far, on such a tight supply has everything to do with the Las Vegas Wash, which empties into Lake Mead. Colby Pellegrino, deputy general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, described the natural stream as something of “a silent miracle,” helping Nevada operate one of the largest water reuse programs in the nation. 

Through the Las Vegas Wash, recycled water flows back to Lake Mead. Each drop of water that is returned allows Nevada to divert an equivalent amount of water, while keeping its overall use within its 300,000 acre-foot allotment. Last year, Nevada diverted more than 480,000 acre-feet from Lake Mead, but it returned about half of that water for an overall use below its allotment. 

Because nearly all indoor water in Southern Nevada is treated and returned to the wash, it has allowed Las Vegas to focus its conservation efforts on aggressive turf removal. This, combined with water recycling, has meant that Nevada has under-used its Colorado River apportionment. 

This year, the state is currently forecast to use about 240,000 acre-feet of water, or 20 percent less than its 300,000 acre-foot allocation. Nevada, as a result, can easily absorb an 8 percent cut to its water supply next year without any significant changes to municipal water deliveries.

As for future growth, Pellegrino said “it depends on how we grow.”

“The future of our growth has to have the smallest water footprint possible,” she added.

Las Vegas is preparing for the realities of a shrinking river by incentivizing and requiring greater degrees of conservation — with a target goal of decreasing per capita water use from about 110 gallons per capita per day to 86 gallons per capita per day by 2035. The water authority’s plan includes a transition from evaporative cooling, pool size limits and prohibiting decorative turf. 

Still, with only 1.8 percent of the Colorado River, Las Vegas cannot fix the problem on its own. In a recent letter, water authority General Manager John Entsminger called for swift cuts aimed at stabilizing the Colorado River’s reservoirs while longer-term agreements can be negotiated. The water authority has also pushed other states to consider climate change in long-term planning.

Hiatt, on the Las Vegas Wash Coordination Committee, came to Southern Nevada in the 1970s, when the population of Clark County was about 350,000 people. He said he is concerned about what a future might look like as climate change continues altering the river’s flows. If conserved water is only re-dedicated to new growth, he worries “we’re going to be in the same position of pushing against our allotment — and our allotment may be significantly lower than it is now.”

“It’s hard to believe anyone is going to come out with more water,” he added.

Reprinted with permission

Conditions point to warmer, drier winter in store — The #Montrose Press #LaNiña #ENSO

Colorado Drought Monitor map Septermber 13, 2022.

Click the link to read the article on the Montrose Press website (Katharhynn Heidelberg). Here’s an excerpt:

The Upper Colorado River Basin recorded its ninth-warmest water year on record through August — and five of those record warm water years have fallen within the last 12. Despite recent, good moisture in the Southwest — sufficient to lift some pockets into a drought-free status — the region should brace itself for another warmer, drier winter and lower snowpack next year, climatologist Peter Goble said during the Tuesday, Sept. 13, Southwest drought briefing…Montrose enjoyed some wetter weather earlier this summer. It also saw near-record temperature highs during the first week of this month, which climatologists said is in keeping with the last four or so years. The U.S. Drought Monitor on Wednesday showed most of Montrose County in moderate drought, with a pocket of severe drought.

Goble also discussed long-term temperature and precipitation in the Upper Colorado Basin, delivering the bad — although perhaps unsurprising — news that it’s experiencing yet another warm water year…When it comes to precipitation, the Upper Colorado Basin has seen three drier than normal years in a row…

Goble said although monsoons this year brought some shorter term relief, “arguably” helped with wildfire season and somewhat improved the soil moisture picture, groundwater in the basin is still well below normal. Root zone soil moistures are in better shape than groundwater, but are still on the low side, which is anticipated to negatively influence runoff next year as the drier soils drink down moisture from precip. Goble said 2022’s spring snowpack was low and runoff, even lower, with values peaking between 70 and 90% of normal…Runoff values stood in the 50 to 80% range…

The winter precipitation outlook is not good, Goble said. Data show an increased chance of it falling below normal, edging up to equal chances north of central Utah and central Colorado. The La Niña weather pattern of drier winters is expected to hold sway and overall, the odds of a warmer, drier fall and winter “are elevated,” he said.

Arizona Department of #Water Resources Director and Central #Arizona Project General Manager give grim assessment of #ColoradoRiver conditions #COriver #aridification

Glen Canyon Dam. Photo credit: USBR

Click the link to read the article on the Arizona Department of Water Resources website:

Buschatzke and Cooke named Environmental Leaders of the Year

Wednesday’s [September 14, 2022] online presentation of the Arizona Capitol Times’ “Morning Scoop on Water Issues in Arizona” served up an hour-long assessment of how the State’s water supply is faring during the current, epic drought conditions.

Some of the news, like that from Leslie Meyers, the newly appointed Associate General Manager & Chief Water Resources Executive for Salt River Project, included refreshing good news. The in-state SRP water supply is in good shape, she reported.

But, as anticipated, most of the Morning Scoop discussion focused on the strained Colorado River system. The Morning Scoop panelists – including ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke and Central Arizona Project General Manager Ted Cooke – could report very little that could be considered upbeat.

ADWR Director Buschatzke reported that declines in the system will continue because “we are still using more water than is going into Lake Mead.”

The Director noted, however, that “we have done many good things” in recent years, including the Drought Contingency Plan of 2019the 500+ Plan of 2021 and other conservation measures. “And while they have not stabilized the system, we would have been in much worse shape if we had not done those things.” [ed. emphasis mine]

The situation on the Colorado River system, nevertheless, is dire.

Credit: USBR

“We’re heading into, essentially, a crisis period.”

Without the 2-4 million acre-feet of needed conservation identified by Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton in June, “we could see as early as 2024 Lake Mead and Lake Powell falling to elevations in which the ability to move water past (Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam) could be compromised.”

Buschatzke made his online comments with an image of the Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon behind him.

“If you think about the background of my picture, the Grand Canyon, if you can’t move water past Glen Canyon Dam, you would have no water in the Grand Canyon. Think about what that would mean.”

Credi: USBR

CAP General Manager Cooke gave an assessment of the current capacity of the two big reservoirs – both at a quarter of their capacity with just 13 million acre-feet of storage – a small fraction of the 50 million acre-feet of total capacity.

“We’re about a year away from not being able to move water past those two dams,” said Cooke.

Terry Goddard, chairman of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, welcomed the nearly 300 viewers in front of a virtual background photo of Lake Mead’s notorious “bathtub ring” – a reminder of the crisis enveloping the Colorado River system.

The ring, he noted, “is a grim reminder of how far that lake has fallen in a very short time.”

Credit: USBR

Goddard registered disappointment that the Department of the Interior in mid-August failed to announce actions to protect the river system from potentially catastrophic storage declines in its primary reservoirs. He recalled that, in June, the Bureau of Reclamation had vowed that if the Colorado River States failed to agree to voluntarily conserve between 2-4 million acre-feet, in addition to the already planned cuts, the federal government would act to protect the system.

Goddard observed that when the states failed to find agreement, “something much bigger was supposed to happen” in addition to the announcement of the planned cutbacks. “But it didn’t,” he said. “They blinked.”

Also on the panel, was Joe Gysel, President of the private water-provider, EPCOR USA.

Arizona Capitol Times “Morning Scoop on Water Issues in Arizona” can be found below: 

This is a follow-up to our May Morning Scoop about Water issues in Arizona. In this session we will explore what has changed in the past few months, the current outlook and then dive into some solutions that are being examined. Credit: Arizona Capitol Times

Earlier in September, the Capitol Times announced the recipients of its annual “Leaders of the Year in Public Policy.”

Among those leaders were ADWR Director Buschatzke and CAP General Manager Ted Cooke, who both were cited for their work in environmental matters.

Each year, the Capitol Times recognizes leaders who have contributed to the growth of our state.

According to the Cap Times, “These are the people and groups that hunker down each day to find ways to improve the quality of life of Arizona’s citizens.”

The awardees will be recognized at an awards luncheon at noon. on Sept. 27 at the Phoenix Art Museum. They will also be profiled in a special edition of the Arizona Capitol Times.