Posted by: atowhee | May 14, 2022

FROM OUR COLORADO CORRESPONDENT

Here is on-site report from a Golden, Colorado resident. Dr. James Charles Wilson is a long-time friend. We were college room-mates durong our summer term as fresh frosh, 1963. He went on to become an atmospheric scientist, on the team that researched the ozone hole, then pioneered much of the basic research on grfeenhouse gases. Thus his views on climate and weather are not trivial:
“Tourists headed for Colorado may find this interesting:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/interactive/2022/colorado-river-crisis/

“In the middle there is a link to an article from 2018 on the Grand Valley:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/climate-environment/climate-change-colorado-utah-hot-spot/

“And a link to the LA Times report on the paper I have been reading:

https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2022-02-14/western-megadrought-driest-in-1200-years.  “There are many popular discussions of that paper.  Bristlecone Pine can live for centuries and tree rings provide one source of the data used to study drought history in this region.  An ecologist who studied fires and cored a bristlecone somewhere on Lookout told me that the ecosystem on our local mountain has long been mediated by fire.  But things are changing and we must adapt. The Southwest’s megadrought certainly changed things on the east side of the divide as well.

“We are negotiating with our insurance company over the valuation of our house and are gathering the things we need for the you-must-go-now box.  Last year they asked us to trim some trees around the house.   Golden’s revised Community Wildfire Protection Plan tells us how to revise our landscaping to create defensible space.  The CWPP allows that nothing they are recommending will matter in fires like the Marshall fire that occurred 16 miles up the road from here.  Friends who used to live in Louisville consider themselves to be climate refugees after losing their house in that fire (1 of 1000 houses).  He was an editor of the USGCRP Fourth National Climate Assessment, so his use of “climate” matters.   We experienced very high winds on Dec 30, 2021. The National Wind Technology Center is between here and Marshall and we often experience the strong winds that they are there to study.  We have been in discussions with various agencies and fire fighters for the last several years about our actual risks and mitigation.  We get Red Flag Warnings on our phones and a recent NWS warning described winds that would push unfightable fires in the event of ignition.  There were only two deaths in Marshall but thousands of people moved very fast to get out of the way.

‘So this 22 year drought shows no signs of breaking.  Its impacts are certainly enhanced by anthropogenic warming.  When it ends, there is no reason to believe that we will return to the conditions that we enjoyed in our first years here (pre-2000).  A degree C of warming allows air to hold 7% more water vapor.  So if you have water upwind your hydrological cycle will be more vigorous.  If you have dry upwind your air will be good at evaporating and drying.  The wet get wetter and the dry get drier.  The woods here are as dry as the lumber at Home Depot.  Apparently it matters what the winds and Pacific currents do.  But El Nino and La Nina are not all that predictable.  A 2017 PhD advisee went to work on predicting effects of atmospheric rivers.  Not all that easy it seems.  So, where to live?  As time passes my ability to run decreases.  One of several reasons to stay attached.”

Wilson included these two images with his email:

Bullock’s; Gadwall pair; Snowy Egret wearing its golden slippers.


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