Climate, Precipitation, & Water Issues in the West

Mass migration on the horizon. Expect lots of
cheap real estate, emptied highways.
Lance

————————————————————-
“The Las Vegas Valley gets 90 percent of its
drinking water from the river, which also
supplies tens of millions of people in Arizona,
California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and
Wyoming.

“The UNLV study is further evidence that climate
change has been affecting the river for some time.

“Its findings come on the heels of dire
predictions for the future of the Colorado.”
—————————————————

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Dec. 11, 2008

CLIMATE CHANGE: Study tracks river’s course
UNLV researchers: More rain, less snow

By HENRY BREAN

You don’t need a crystal ball to predict the
potential impacts of climate change on the

Colorado River. According to UNLV researchers,

what could happen to the river is happening

already.

A new study of old data reveals that increasing
temperatures in the Colorado River Basin over the
past 55 years have changed the timing and
magnitude of the basin’s streamflow.

Over that period, warmer weather resulted in more
frequent rainfall and less frequent snowfall,
leading to a decrease in snowpack and snowmelt in
the region.

“When rain occurs in place of snow, streamflow
peaks earlier in the year and can make it
challenging for water managers to assess resource
availability,” said Tom Piechota, UNLV director
of sustainability and multidisciplinary research.
“Warming by itself can change water supply. It’s
something to be concerned about.”

The Colorado River is primarily fed by runoff
from melting snow in the high mountains in the
upper part of the basin.

The Las Vegas Valley gets 90 percent of its
drinking water from the river, which also
supplies tens of millions of people in Arizona,
California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and
Wyoming.

The UNLV study is further evidence that climate
change has been affecting the river for some time.

Piechota authored it with W. Paul Miller, a UNLV
graduate student who works with the federal
Bureau of Reclamation in Boulder City.

Using historical temperature, precipitation and
runoff data from 1951-2005, the researchers
identified a consistent increase in temperatures
over the Colorado River Basin. They also noted
increased river flows in the late fall and winter
months and decreased river flows in the spring
and summer months.

Their findings were published in the October
issue of the American Meteorological Society’s
Journal of Hydrometeorology.

Future research will seek to link the rising
temperatures to an increase in rainfall and
earlier snowmelt, leading to a drop in streamflow
during what is now the peak runoff season of
April through July.

The UNLV study was funded by the Bureau of
Reclamation, the National Science Foundation and
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration.

Its findings come on the heels of dire
predictions for the future of the Colorado.

A study released in February by the Scripps
Institution of Oceanography in San Diego warned
there is a 50 percent chance that Lake Mead, the
river’s largest reservoir, could run dry by 2021.

That prediction has since been challenged by
other studies and regional climate models, but
most scientists forecast less water for the river
in the future.

Of course, Mother Nature will have the final say.

Piechota was in Boulder, Colo., for a meeting on
Monday, and he got out just ahead of the snow. So
far, he said, it looks as if the snowpack season
is “off to a pretty good start.”

Find this article at:
http://www.lvrj.com/news/35952499.html

Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1997 – 2008

Go Green! Subscribe to the electronic Edition at www.reviewjournal.com/ee/

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed