Colorado’s wildfire-stricken forests showing limited recovery

Colorado forests stricken by wildfire are not regenerating as well as expected and may partially transform into grasslands and shrublands in coming decades, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study.  The paper, published in the journal Ecosphere by former doctoral student Monica Rother and geography professor Thomas Veblen, examined the sites of six low-elevation ponderosa pine forest fires which collectively burned 162,000 acres along the Colorado Front Range between 1996 and 2003. Eight to 15 years after the fires, the researchers expected – based on historical patterns … [Read more...]

CU Boulder ice experts report: Arctic sea ice at lowest maximum for second consecutive year

Arctic sea ice was at a record low maximum extent for the second straight year, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder and NASA. "I've never see such a warm, crazy winter in the Arctic,” said NSIDC director Mark Serreze. “The heat was relentless." Air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean for the months of December, January, and February were 2 to 6 degrees Celsius (4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) above average in nearly every region. Sea ice extent over the Arctic Ocean averaged 14.52 million square kilometers (5.607 million … [Read more...]

New Video Explores Arctic Sea Ice, Variability, and Climate Models

The heartbeat of the arctic impacts climate worldwide. Join Jen Kay, CU-Boulder assistant professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences fellow, to learn about the “heartbeat”— or melt cycles of the arctic — climate modeling, and climate change in the new video, Arctic Sea Ice, Variability, and Climate Models: Kay studies cloud processes, polar climate, recent and projected Arctic sea ice loss, and evaluation and improvement of climate models. In this video she briefly explains how climate models work and the important role … [Read more...]

Belief in Climate Change Not Linked to Wildfire Mitigation Actions

People who believe that climate change is increasing the risk of devastating wildfires in Colorado are no more likely to take mitigation actions to protect their property, a new study led by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the U.S. Forest Service has found. The study, which was recently published in the journal Environmental Hazards, examined the role that climate change beliefs play in a homeowner’s choice to undertake risk mitigation activities such as installing a fire-resistant roof to reduce the ignitability of their home or thinning surrounding vegetation that … [Read more...]

High School Class Builds Snow Depth Sensor: How You Can Too

Students at Pagosa Springs High School have great opportunities to collect authentic environmental data in their classes, and they have recently expanded their capacity to monitor snow depth thanks to a resourceful peer, Connor Burkesmith. With support from Learn More About Climate and technical support from Andrew Wickert, an alumnus of the CU-Boulder Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Burkesmith built a snow sensor as part of his independent study project to collect low-elevation snow depth data near downtown Pagosa Springs. Wickert developed the sensor, called an ALog Data Logger, … [Read more...]

Teachers Invited to Power of Water Workshops

Teachers are invited to join the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences for workshops in July and August that address the power of water. Learn how water impacted stream ecosystems and geomorphology as a result of the great flood of 2013 and the ways in which water and invasive species can affect stream flows and stream structure. Hear from CU-Boulder scientists and learn about activities your students can do related to their research. These workshops are geared toward secondary science teachers but are open to all K-12 teachers. Sign up for one or both workshops, but … [Read more...]

Mountains Warming Faster than Expected as Climate Changes, Scientists Report

An international team of scientists is calling for urgent and rigorous monitoring of temperature patterns in mountain regions after compiling evidence that high elevations could be warming faster than previously thought. Without substantially better information, people risk underestimating the severity of a number of already looming environmental challenges, including water shortages and the possible extinction of some alpine flora and fauna, according to the research team, which includes Henry Diaz and Imtiaz Rangwala from CIRES, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental … [Read more...]

Arctic Sea Ice Loss 
Expected to be Bumpy in the Short Term

Arctic sea ice extent plunged precipitously from 2001 to 2007, then it barely budged between 2007 and 2013. Even in a warming world, researchers can expect such unusual periods of no change—and rapid change—at the world’s northern reaches, according to a new paper. “Human-caused global warming is melting Arctic sea ice over the long term, but the Arctic is a variable place, said Jennifer Kay, a fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder and co-author of the new analysis in Nature Climate Change. Natural ups and downs … [Read more...]

New report charts Colorado’s climate change
 vulnerabilities

Sea-level rise may not be eating away at Colorado’s borders, but climate change exposes other critical vulnerabilities in the state, according to a new report. Rising temperatures likely will take a toll on cattle and crops, for example, and could more often leave junior water rights holders with little water and few options. The new report, “The Colorado Climate Change Vulnerability Study,” was commissioned by the Colorado Energy Office in accordance with the Colorado Legislature’s House Bill 13-1293, according to a CU-Boulder news release. It’s a sector-by-sector analysis of the … [Read more...]

Teachers Invited to Climate Change Impacts in the Southwest Workshop Feb. 18

Join us for a free NASA-sponsored workshop about climate impacts in the Southwest. Take part in a Q&A with local climate scientists and educators followed by an interactive presentation by Dr. Fred Lipschultz, from the US Global Change Research Program, and an exploration of teaching and citizen-science resources by Dr. Minda Berbeco, from the National Center for Science Education. When:  Wednesday, Feb. 18 from 5-6:45 p.m. (MST) Where:  University of Colorado Boulder, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Auditorium Room 338 (map) > Register … [Read more...]