[indoor-gardening] ENVIRONMENT: GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE : WATER SUPPLY : WATER TABLES : RESERVOIRS : RIVERS: COLORADO RIVER: Climate Change is Sucking the Colorado River Dry

 

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ENVIRONMENT: GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE :

WATER SUPPLY :

WATER TABLES :

RESERVOIRS :

RIVERS: COLORADO RIVER:

Climate Change is Sucking the Colorado River Dry

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Climate Change is Sucking the Colorado River Dry

By John Upton

2 Apr 2016      7:00 am

GRIST

Cross-posted from ClimateCentral

http://grist.org/climate-energy/ climate-change-is-sucking-the-colorado-river-dry/

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A shorter URL for the above link:

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http://tinyurl.com/htfzfeh

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Even as the number of Americans relying on the Colorado River for household water swells to about 40 million, global warming appears to be taking a chunk out of the flows that feed their reservoirs.

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Winter storms over the Rocky Mountains provide much of the water that courses down the heavily tapped waterway, which spills through deep gorges of the Southwest and into Mexico.

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But flows in recent decades have been lighter than would have been expected given annual rain and snowfall rates  and a new study has pinpointed rising temperatures as the likely culprit.

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For a given precipitation over the cool season, from October through April, were seeing less flow than weve seen in the past, said James Prairie, a researcher with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamations Upper Colorado Regional Office.

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snip

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As greenhouse gas pollution piles up in the atmosphere, its trapping heat and raising global temperatures, which is beginning to parch the Colorado River watershed. Heavier impacts on drinking water supplies in the West and elsewhere are projected for the future as warming accelerates.

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The new research, published in Geophysical Research Letters by academics and a federal scientist, focused on the upper stretches of the river. It attempted to parse out the different roles of temperature, precipitation, and soil moisture on the variability of yearly water flows since reliable record-keeping began in 1906.

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Research Letter
Increasing influence of air temperature on upper Colorado River streamflow
Authors
Connie A. Woodhouse,
Gregory T. Pederson,
Kiyomi Morino,
Stephanie A. McAfee,
Gregory J. McCabe
First published: 9 March 2016Full publication history
DOI: 10.1002/2015GL067613View/save citation
Geophysical Research Letters
AGU Publications
Wiley Online Library

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL067613/full

Abstract

This empirical study examines the influence of precipitation, temperature, and antecedent soil moisture on upper Colorado River basin (UCRB) water year streamflow over the past century. While cool season precipitation explains most of the variability in annual flows, temperature appears to be highly influential under certain conditions, with the role of antecedent fall soil moisture less clear. In both wet and dry years, when flow is substantially different than expected given precipitation, these factors can modulate the dominant precipitation influence on streamflow. Different combinations of temperature, precipitation, and soil moisture can result in flow deficits of similar magnitude, but recent droughts have been amplified by warmer temperatures that exacerbate the effects of relatively modest precipitation deficits. Since 1988, a marked increase in the frequency of warm years with lower flows than expected, given precipitation, suggests continued warming temperatures will be an increasingly important influence in reducing future UCRB water supplies.

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snip

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Until the 1990s, yearly supplies of available Colorado River water outpaced demand. Now, the opposite is true.

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snip

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Because those upstream reservoirs are smaller, theyre less capable of storing enough water following wet years to buffer the effects of dry ones.

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Less water in the reservoirs means less water for people who actually want and need the water, said Peter Soeth, a spokesperson for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The effects arent just being felt by farmers and other water customers, Soeth said. Theyre also impacting electrical grids, with less water flow meaning less hydropower.

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The complete articles may be read at the URLs provided for each.

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