Behind the Ozone Garden: Ozone, Climate Change, and Our Health

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Ground-level ozone (a.k.a “bad” ozone) is harmful to humans and plants. Ozone can make it difficult to breath, especially for those with asthma or other respiratory infections. High levels of ground-level ozone are hazardous for all people, but the young and elderly are often most affected. When an Ozone Action Alert is issued because of high ozone levels, the young and elderly are encouraged to stay inside and plan outdoor exercise early in the morning when ozone levels are lowest. While people can go inside on Ozone Action Alert days, plants cannot. Spikes in ozone levels are dangerous to … [Read more...]

Study: Western Forests Decimated by Pine Beetles Not More Likely to Burn

High Park Fire, Colorado 2012, Courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture

Western U.S. forests killed by the mountain pine beetle epidemic are no more at risk to burn than healthy Western forests, according to new findings by the University of Colorado Boulder that fly in the face of both public perception and policy. The CU-Boulder study authors looked at the three peak years of Western wildfires since 2002, using maps produced by federal land management agencies. The researchers superimposed maps of areas burned in the West in 2006, 2007 and 2012 on maps of areas identified as infested by mountain pine beetles, according to a CU-Boulder news release. The … [Read more...]

Free Online Course Offers in Depth Look at Water in the West

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Why is water at the heart of so much conflict in the American West? How have major cities and extensive agricultural systems been able to thrive despite most of the region being either a desert or semi-desert environment? How will a warming climate affect the availability and use of water in a region populated by tens of millions of people? Join “Water in the Western United States,” a free, Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) featuring leading University of Colorado Boulder scientists who will provide an overview of the science behind water and climate. In addition, they will discuss the … [Read more...]

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

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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

Fire Drop

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...]

CU-Boulder teams up with Mesa County to make snow-depth data free to water managers, farmers, public

Mesa County GPS Network

New from Colorado.edu: A University of Colorado Boulder professor who developed a clever method to measure snow depth using GPS signals is collaborating with Western Slope officials to make the data freely available to a variety of users on a daily basis. CU-Boulder aerospace engineering sciences Professor Kristine Larson and her colleagues discovered in 2009 that GPS signals that bounce off Earth’s surface before hitting the receivers, once considered bothersome “noise,” could be used to measure snow depth, soil moisture and even vegetation moisture. Larson also is a pioneer in the … [Read more...]

CU-Boulder researchers find common factors behind Greenland melt episodes in 2012, 1889

Atmospheric river events 2012. Credit: Don Murray, CIRES/NOAA

New from Colorado.EDU: In 2012, temperatures at the summit of Greenland rose above freezing for the first time since 1889, raising questions about what led to the unusual melt episode. Now, a new analysis led by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder shows that some of the same weather and climate factors were at play in both 1889 and 2012: heat waves thousands of miles upwind in North America, higher-than-average ocean surface temperatures south of Greenland and atmospheric rivers of warm, moist air that streamed toward … [Read more...]

4 Questions for Professor Mark Williams and the new guide for well owners who live in areas of oil and gas development

Dr. Mark Williams, CU-Boulder

Professor Mark Williams is the co-founder of the Colorado Water and Energy Research Center (CWERC) and co-author of the new Monitoring Water Quality In Areas of Oil and Natural Gas Development: A Guide for Water Well Users. The guide is the first of its kind and includes detailed instructions for well owners to collect water samples and to establish a reliable baseline of their water quality and quantity. We caught up with Dr. Williams to learn more about his work and why this guide is important. How did you get involved in the work that you do, in other words, what drew you into this … [Read more...]

Seasonal Arctic summer ice extent still hard to forecast, NSIDC study says

Arctic sea ice

The following is an excerpt from the National Snow & Ice Data Center. Read the entire press release at http://nsidc.org/news/press/2014_seasonalseaice_PR.html. Will next year’s summer Arctic ice extent be high or low? Can ship captains plan on navigating the famed Northwest Passage—a direct shipping route from Europe to Asia across the Arctic Ocean—to save on time and fuel? A new study says year-to-year forecasts of the Arctic’s summer ice extent are not yet reliable. Scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), University College London, University of New Hampshire and … [Read more...]

New Guide From CU-Boulder Helps Water Well Users Test Water Quality

testing well water

CU-Boulder’s Colorado Water and Energy Research Center (CWERC) has released a new tool for well water usesrs to test their water quality. "Monitoring Water Quality in Areas of Oil and Natural Gas Development: A Guide for Water Well Users" is a free tool and is available to download or request a print copy. The guide includes a well sampling worksheet, a list of resources, information on free baseline testing, and instructions on finding a testing laboratory. It also includes lists of the analytes. (An analyte is a substance or an aspect of water quality that is the subject of analysis.) … [Read more...]