Posting to Coyote Gulch is likely to be impacted by the events this week in Steamboat Springs including the horrible bicycle commute each morning and evening between my campsite on the west edge of town and the conference location at the Steamboat Grand Hotel.
Here’s the release from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Rebecca Kimitch/Maritza Fairfield):
Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, issues the following statement on the Bureau of Reclamation’s latest 24-month study on Colorado River system reservoir conditions:
“We’re certainly grateful that nature provided some relief to the critical conditions in the Colorado River Basin. But the Southwest wouldn’t be in this encouraging position without also the successful collaboration of the Colorado River Basin states to develop the Drought Contingency Plan. The DCP wasn’t just about sharing the pain of potential water cutbacks; one of its primary benefits was to incentivize storage in Lake Mead. It creates new storage opportunities for California, Arizona and Nevada and increases the flexibility to access stored water.
“Today is evidence the DCP is working as we hoped. By the end of the year, the Lower Basin states and Mexico together anticipate storing an additional 700,000 acre-feet of conserved water in Lake Mead in 2019 – a record amount that will boost the lake’s elevation by nearly
9 feet. Metropolitan alone will store 400,000 acre-feet this year, bringing our total stored in the lake to nearly 1 million acre-feet, another record.
“While all that storage helps keep Lake Mead out of shortage, it also helps prepare Southern California for our state’s next drought. Being able to store water when it is available for use in times when it is not is the key to ensuring the region has reliable water in the future. We got some reprieve from drought conditions on the Colorado River this year, but Lake Mead is still less than half full. And climate change is likely to lead to drier conditions in our future. As we begin work to resolve the water supply imbalance on the river, we’re pleased the DCP helped address the immediate concerns.”
The global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average for July 2019 was the highest for the month of July, making it the warmest month overall in the 140-year NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880. The year-to-date temperature for 2019 tied with 2017 as the second warmest January–July on record.
This monthly summary, developed by scientists at NOAA 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.
July 2019 Temperature
The July temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.71°F above the 20th century average of 60.4°F and was the highest for July in the 1880–2019 record. July 2019 bested the previous record—set in 2016—by 0.05°F.
Nine of the 10 warmest Julys have occurred since 2005, with the last five years (2015–2019) being the five warmest Julys on record. July 1998 is the only value from the previous century among the 10 warmest Julys on record.
Climatologically, July is the globe’s warmest month of the year. With July 2019 being the warmest July on record, at least nominally, this resulted in the warmest month on record for the globe.
Record warm July temperatures were present across parts of North America, southern Asia, southern Africa, the northern Indian Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as across the western and northern parts of the Pacific Ocean. No land or ocean areas had record cold July temperatures.
The July globally averaged land surface temperature was 2.21°F above the 20th century average of 57.8°F and the second-highest July land temperature in the 140-year record. July 2017 holds the record for the highest July global land temperature departure from average at 2.23°F.
The most notable warm temperature departures from average were present across Alaska, central Europe, northern and southwestern parts of Asia, and parts of Africa and Australia, where temperatures were at least 2.7°F above the 1981–2010 average or higher. The most notable cooler-than-average temperatures were present across parts of Scandinavia and western and eastern Russia, where temperatures were at least 2.7°F below average or cooler.
Regionally, North America, Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Hawaiian region, the Caribbean region, and the Gulf of Mexico had a July temperature departure from average that ranked among the 10 warmest Julys on record. Of note, Africa had its warmest July at 2.97°F, besting the previous record set in 2015 by 0.32°F.
The July globally averaged sea surface temperature was 1.51°F above the 20th century monthly average of 61.5°F and the highest global sea surface temperature for July on record. Compared to all months, this value tied with September 2015 as the sixth highest monthly global ocean temperature departure from average among all months (1,675 months) on record. The 10 highest global ocean monthly temperature departures from average have all occurred since September 2015.
The Arctic sea ice extent set a record low for July at 726,000 square miles (19.8%) below the 1981–2010 average and 30,900 square miles below the now second-lowest July sea ice extent set in 2012, according to an analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center using data from NOAA and NASA. During July 2019, sea ice loss occurred at an average rate of 40,800 square miles per day, surpassing the 1981–2010 average of 33,500 square miles. Only seven other years (1990, 1991, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2015, and 2018) had a daily rate of sea ice loss exceeding 38,600 square miles.
The July 2019 Antarctic sea ice extent was 260,000 square miles (4.3%) below the 1981–2010 average and was the smallest July extent in the 41-year record. This value is slightly below the previous record set in 2017 (250,000 square miles).
Year-to-date (January–July 2019)
The year-to-date temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.71°F above the 20th century average of 56.9°F — tying with 2017 as the second highest for January–July in the 140-year record. Only January–July 2016 (+1.96°F) was warmer.
The most notable warm temperature departures from average were present across parts of the Northern Hemisphere, specifically Alaska, western Canada, and central Russia, where temperature departures from average were at least +3.6°F or higher. Meanwhile, the most notable cool temperature departures from average were present across much of the contiguous United States and southern Canada, where temperatures were at least 1.8°F below average or cooler.
Record warm January–July temperatures were present across the southern half of Africa and parts of North America, South America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and its surrounding ocean, as well as parts of the western Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and western Indian Ocean. No land or ocean areas had record cold temperatures during January–July 2019.
Regionally, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania had a January–July temperature that ranked among the five highest such periods on record, with South America and Oceania having their second warmest year-to-date on record.
The year-to-date globally averaged land surface temperature was 2.63°F above the 20th century average of 46.8°F. This value was the third highest for January–July on record, behind 2016 (+3.20°F) and 2017 (+2.74°F).
The year-to-date globally averaged sea surface temperature was the second highest for January–July in the 1880–2019 record at 1.37°F above the 20th century average of 61.0°F. Only July 2016 (+1.49°F) was warmer.
A puffy pink seaweed that can stop cows from burping out methane is being primed for mass farming by Australian researchers.
The particular seaweed species, called Asparagopsis, grows prolifically off the Queensland Coast, and was the only seaweed found to have the effect in a study five years ago led by CSIRO. Even a small amount of the seaweed in a cow’s diet was shown to reduce the animal’s gases by 99%.
Associate Professor Nick Paul, who is the leader of the Seaweed Research Group at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), said that if Australia could grow enough of the seaweed for every cow in the nation, the country could cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 10%.
“Seaweed is something that cows are known to eat. They will actually wander down to the beach and have a bit of a nibble,” Dr. Paul said.
“When added to cow feed at less than 2% of the dry matter, this particular seaweed completely knocks out methane production. It contains chemicals that reduce the microbes in the cows’ stomachs that cause them to burp when they eat grass.”
The USC team is working at the Bribie Island Research Centre in Moreton Bay to learn more about how to grow the seaweed species, with the goal of informing a scale-up of production that could supplement cow feed on a national—and even global scale.
“This seaweed has caused a lot of global interest and people around the world are working to make sure the cows are healthy, the beef and the milk are good quality,” Dr. Paul said.
“That’s all happening right now. But the one missing step, the big thing that is going to make sure this works at a global scale, is to make sure we can produce the seaweed sustainably.
For the first time in history, low water levels on the Colorado River have forced Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico to cut back the amount of water they use. It’s the latest example of climate change affecting daily life, but also an encouraging sign that people can handle a world with less: These orderly cutbacks are only happening because seven U.S. states and Mexico had agreed to abide by conservation rules when flows subside, rather than fight for the last drops.
“It is a new era of limits,” said Kevin Moran, who directs the Environmental Defense Fund’s Colorado River efforts…
A Bureau of Reclamation study of Colorado River levels, released Thursday, triggered the cutbacks. The Rocky Mountains finally turned white with heavy snow last winter, but despite a galloping spring runoff, drought persists and bathtub-ringed reservoirs in the Grand Canyon are low. In its study, the Bureau highlighted the unique circumstances: “This 20-year period is also one of the driest in the 1,200-year paleo record.”
Rising temperatures brought on by rising carbon emissions are partly to blame. “Approximately one‐third of the [Colorado River] flow loss is due to high temperatures now common in the basin, a result of human caused climate change,” wrote scientists Brad Udall and Jonathan Overpeck in a study published in 2017 that anticipated water will only become scarcer in the future.
But these water-use reductions are also an example of people binding themselves to rules to deal with scarce resources, rather than going to court, or war. The cutbacks come from an agreement hammered out by the Southwestern states and Mexico to impose limits on themselves.
“It’s not necessarily well known or talked about, but this collaboration between the states and Mexico is one of the most successful cross-border water management stories in the world,” Moran said.
From the Associated Press (Felicia Fonseca) via The Las Vegas Sun:
Arizona and Nevada are faced with the first-ever cuts to their Colorado River water supply in 2020.
But the cuts aren’t expected to be overly burdensome for either state because they’ve been conserving and storing water for years…
Arizona will leave 7% of its allocation in Lake Mead under a drought plan approved earlier this year by several states that rely on the river. Nevada will leave 3%.
Mexico also gives up 3% under a separate accord.
The states and Mexico can recover the water if Lake Mead rises to a certain level.
The decision to implement those cuts came on Thursday after federal water managers released a study that serves as a key benchmark for Southwest states. That forecast predicted that Lake Mead would start 2020 at 1089.4 feet above sea level, below the 1090-foot trigger for the cuts.
By forgoing water in dry years, the states store more water in Lake Mead, a reservoir that has decreased over the past two decades because of overuse, drought and climate change. If the reservoir drops further, states would be required to take more cuts to their allotment. When reservoir levels rise, the states are allowed to access the stored water for future use.
In practice, the cuts will have no effect on Nevada’s short-term water security or water management. The Southern Nevada Water Authority is expected to voluntarily conserve about nine times more water this year than the required cuts under the drought plan in 2020. Since 2003, Nevada has used less water than what the state is allowed to take under the river’s interstate compact.
In 2017, the state used about 80 percent of its allotment, largely in part because of indoor water recycling and conservation programs that incentivize removing grass. This year the water authority is on track to use even less. That means Nevada is likely to leave substantially more water in the reservoir this year — as much as 75,000 acre-feet — than what is required by the cuts — about 8,000 acre-feet — next year. (An acre-foot is an agricultural term for the amount of water that can fill an acre to a depth of one foot. Nevada’s allocation is 300,000 acre-feet).
Bronson Mack, a water authority spokesman, said that the agency has cut its Colorado River water use by 25 percent since 2002, even as Las Vegas’ population has grown by 40 percent…
But the cuts are still significant, said John Fleck, a University of New Mexico professor who has a forthcoming book, “Science Be Dammed,” that looks at the history, politics and hydrology of the river. They mark the first time the states have been required to use less than their allocation…
It is also a recognition of a future where there is expected to be less — not more — water to go around. Even though above-average levels of snow fell across much of the West this year, the long-term trend in the Colorado River is toward declining streamflow. Research has found that high temperatures have made runoff less efficient. Scientists say that climate change could further reduce the river’s flow and make managing it more difficult, even as demands grow.
Heavy precipitation made a difference this year. When the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released its 2019 forecast last year, the study predicted an official shortage in 2020. Water users avoided that declaration, although the federal water agency warned that they are not out of the clear.
“This is a big deal for everybody on the Colorado River system,” said Jim Pokrandt, the head of community affairs for the Glenwood Springs-based Colorado River Water District.
The study won’t have much of an impact on Colorado, where the Upper Basin Drought Contingency Plan has water users hammering out the details of “demand management.” Those details include asking for temporary, voluntary and compensated curtailment of water rights to build a bank of Colorado water in Lake Powell before mandatory cuts are imposed by the federal government.
Pokrandt said the dawning of mandatory cuts in the Lower Basin increases the urgency of demand-management talks in Colorado. Without a demand-management plan encouraging water users to volunteer their water rights in Colorado, the state could see mandatory cuts, where “nobody gets paid,” he said.
“The news from the Lower Basin is a reminder that 2019’s snowpack cannot give us a false sense of security,” Pokrandt said, recalling that Colorado’s super-snowy 2011 was followed by an exceptionally dry 2012. “This is a reminder of the importance of what the Upper Basin states have to do for their own Drought Contingency Plan.”
hat’s called demand management. Across Colorado, water districts and water users are studying whether demand management will work.
“Nobody knows if it will be feasible,” said Pokrandt, whose 15-county district spans the Western Slope, noting that the Colorado Water Conservation Board just launched its Demand Management Workshop to educate the state’s water users on the idea of temporarily suspending water rights for cash in order to build a bank of Colorado water in Lake Powell. “Determining feasibility will be a long process.”
Lake Powell will enter 2020 in the “Intentionally Created Surplus Condition,” which allows for the release of the usual 8.23 million acre-feet of water in 2020 to fill Lake Mead. It also means the Upper Basin states will increase their own banked storage in the reservoir, enabling them to better weather low-snow years with a protected cache of extra water.
Total storage in both reservoirs is 55% of capacity, compared with 49% at this time last year.
Boulder residents are advised to keep their children and animals out of Wonderland Lake in north Boulder and a similar warning was issued for Quincy Reservoir in Aurora.
Sloan’s Lake is the only body of water in Denver that has tested positive for the algae. Signs are posted there warning people not to swim or wade in the lake, though health officials said they haven’t heard of anyone getting sick from it.
Thunderbird Lake in southeast Boulder also has reports of blue-green algae. Swimming and wading are not allowed there.
Blue-green algae is a bacteria found in non-flowing freshwater that can be fatal to animals if ingested. The algae naturally occurs in aquatic ecosystems and can appear rapidly – especially during the summer with hot weather and in slow-moving water bodies, such as lakes, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment…
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, harmful algae blooms often have the following characteristics:
May look like thick pea soup or spilled paint on the water’s surface.
Can create a thick mat of foam along the shoreline.
Usually are green or blue-green, although they can be brown, purple or white.
Sometimes are made up of small specks or blobs floating just at or below the water’s surface