Climate report: Warmer and drier in the West |

Climate report: Warmer and drier in the West

Taking a broad look at the West’s four major river basins ” the Columbia, Colorado, Missouri and Rio Grande ” climate researchers have concluded that changes in temperatures and precipitation patterns are threatening the region’s snow and water resources.

The latest report on the impacts of climate disruption was released Wednesday at a press conference in Denver by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization. The year-old group, headed by Louisville resident Stephen Saunders, is dedicated to highlighting the potential impacts of global warming on the Rocky Mountain region.

“Scientists say that in the West human-caused climate change will lead to more heat, less snow, less water when we need it, and possibly more drought,” Saunders said. “Our analysis shows that this climate disruption is already underway. In the West’s four largest river basins, temperatures are up and snowpack levels are down.”

“All of us, water utilities included, act on the assumption that the future will be a lot like the past. I’m now a lot less confident of that than I used to be,” said Denver Water manager Chips Barry, “We know that global warming is occurring, and that means much greater uncertainty about our future water supplies.”

The new report indicates that in each of the four river basins, the most recent five years was the hottest such period in the last 110 years. The warming was greatest in January, February and March. This pronounced seasonal effect is predicted by many greehouse gas studies and global warming models and can, according to the report, be interpreted as a “signature of human-induced climate change.”

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

This also is when warming has the greatest effects on snowpack levels.

The report also shows how crucial snowpack levels have declined in the four river basins in recent years. In the Colorado River Basin, for example, the 1990-2005 average is 10.5 percent below the historical average.

A link to the report, as well as related information, is available online at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User