New study: Dust, warming portend dry future for the Colorado River

Reducing the amount of desert dust swept onto snowy Rocky Mountain peaks could help Western water managers deal with the challenges of a warmer future, according to a new study led by researchers at NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the CU – Boulder.

With support from the CIRES Western Water Assessment (WWA) and NASA’s Interdisciplinary Science program, CIRES’ Jeffrey Deems and his colleagues examined the combined effects of regional warming and dust on the Colorado River, which is fed primarily by snowmelt.

During recent years, desert dust has been settling thick and dark on the snowpack in the northern Rocky Mountain headwaters of the Colorado River, and snowpack is melting out as many as six weeks earlier than it did in the 1800s, according to the new assessment, published last week in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. Snow dusted with dark particles absorbs more of the Sun’s rays and melts faster than clean snow.

Read the full article: http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2013/11/14/new-study-dust-warming-portend-dry-future-colorado-river#sthash.am3v7ALQ.dpuf

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