Photo submitted Delta residents Bob and Nelda Barnes are pictured with their daughter Kara at the Hulston Cancer Center in Springfield, Mo.Chemotherapy is a long, often-frightening cancer treatment that can cause a variety of side effects. The process can take weeks, and can affect a patient's ability to work, to care for their families or to engage in their favorite hobbies.More
Subscribe today and get the DCI
delivered weekly to your mailing address.
If you want to support your community newspaper,
but do not want to receive a printed newspaper, please consider making a donation . . .
This week's e-Edition
A report released in November by climate researchers at the University of Colorado indicates that dust storms, combined with warming temperatures, could cause snow to disappear from the mountains of the Upper Colorado River basin up to six weeks earlier by 2050. However, the researchers' models show that if soil conservation measures significantly reduce dust transport, the advance of the "average snow-all-gone date" could be cut in half.
The timing of the spring melt is important for water users as well as stream health. A later melt can support streamflows into the summer; an earlier melt can increase the amount of water that flows downstream before it can be captured for irrigation purposes. The snowpack is our largest and cheapest reservoir.
Dust carried onto mountain snow by the wind makes the snow darker, causing it to absorb more of the sun's energy and melt faster than clean snow. Research to better understand the dynamics and impacts of this phenomenon increased after unprecedented amounts of dust were deposited on mountain snow in our region in 2009 and 2010. I drove Red Mountain Pass in the spring of 2009, and the mountains were pink!
Much of the dust deposited on snow in Colorado's mountains comes from the four corners region. Disturbance of desert soils by overgrazing, development, off-road vehicle use and other activities increases dust transport by breaking up the soil crust that limits wind erosion. Restoring damaged soils could reduce it. According to the report, our mountain snowpack is already melting an average of six weeks earlier than it did in the 1800s, largely because of increased dust transport resulting from increased soil disturbance.
Many farmers on Colorado's West Slope already suffer from a lack of late-season water, particularly if they are not downstream from a large reservoir. Faster melting of the snowpack would exacerbate this problem. Impacts to streamflows could also impact fishing and rafting, with knock-on impacts for tourism-dependent economies.
Even without the dust-on-snow problem, the warmer regional temperatures forecast by most climate models would bring earlier spring thaws. But getting a handle on the dust problem would help, regardless of what happens with our temperatures. And it just might be a problem we can fix.
To read the report for yourself, go to the Western Water Assessment website, at wwa.colorado.edu.
This is part of a series of articles coordinated by the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University in cooperation with the Colorado and Gunnison Basin Roundtables to raise awareness about water needs, uses and policies in our region. To learn more about the basin roundtables and statewide water planning, and to let the roundtables know what you think, go to www.coloradomesa.edu/WaterCenter. You can also find the Water Center on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WaterCenter.CMU or twitter at https://twitter.com/WaterCenterCMU.blog comments powered by Disqus