What’s next for D&SNG in $25 million federal lawsuit?

Case could take years to settle or go to trial, experts say

It could take years for a federal lawsuit seeking $25 million from the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for starting the 416 Fire to play out in the courts, experts say.

Odds Favor Wetter than Normal July as Monsoon Season Looms ~ NWS, Grand Junction

Odds Favor Wetter than Normal July as Monsoon Season Looms

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The Climate Prediction Center recently released their latest monthly temperature and precipitation outlooks for July 2018. Odds are favoring wetter than normal conditions developing across much of the southwestern United States, especially in the Four Corners area. The wet conditions look to continue through September as the CPC’s three month outlook (including the months of July, August and September) shows odds favoring above normal precipitation. As far as temperatures are concerned, odds favor warmer than normal temperatures across Utah and into far western Colorado for July with above normal temperatures favored across the entire western United States through September.

July 2018 Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks

July 2018 Climate Outlook

Three Month Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks

(Including the months of July, August and September)

Three Month Climate Outlook

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What is the Monsoon?

The North American Monsoon Season typically begins towards the end of July and continues through early September. It is associated with a long duration weather pattern shift as the subtropical ridge of high pressure amplifies and moves to our east. This results in a shift in upper level winds with the flow turning to the south, allowing for moisture to be pulled northward from the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Monsoon Schematic

Even after a rush of snow and rain, the thirsty Colorado River Basin is “not out of the woods yet”

06-25-2019-BLUE-MESA-FOR-DANA001_5.jpg
Morrow Point Dam stands upstream of the Gunnison River. Morrow Point Dam was completed in 1971, the first large double-curvature, thin-arch dam built in the United States. Morrow Point Dam was created as part of the Colorado River Storage Project as a way to manage and control the Colorado River, of which the Gunnison River is the 5th largest tributary. through. (Dean Krakel, Special to The Colorado Sun)

It will take as many as 13 water years exactly like this one to erase the impacts of long-term drought in the West, Colorado River District engineers say

Freak summer hailstorm buries Mexican city under five feet of ice ~ The Washington Post

Mexican city under five feet of ice

A blanket of hail and ice covered streets in the Mexican city of Guadalajara after a heavy storm hit the area on June 30.

July 1 at 8:17 AM

It’s summer in Guadalajara, one of Mexico’s most populous towns, which made what happened there over the weekend all the more surprising.

Sunday morning, residents woke to their roads, yards and even cars buried under more than three feet of icy slush from a freak hailstorm that had blanketed the city.


Residents play on top of ice after a heavy storm of rain and hail that affected some areas of ​​Guadalajara, Mexico, on June 30. (Fernando Carranza/Reuters)

On Twitter, Jalisco Gov. Enrique Alfaro said Civil Protection personnel quickly began cleanup, digging vehicles out from beneath the sea of hail and pumping out floodwaters once it had started to melt.

Enrique Alfaro

@EnriqueAlfaroR

Luego de una inusual granizada en distintas colonias del Área Metropolitana de Guadalajara, principalmente en Rancho Blanco y en la Zona Industrial, personal de Protección Civil Jalisco atendió la situación desde la madrugada.

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“I’ve never seen such scenes in Guadalajara,” Alfaro told AFP.

“Then we ask ourselves if climate change is real. These are never-before-seen natural phenomenons,” he said. “It’s incredible.”

In some places, the hail was up to five feet deep, AFP reported.

Residents in the mountainous area, which sits about 350 miles west of Mexico City, reported damage to nearly 200 homes and businesses, according to AFP, and some 50 vehicles were swept away by the heavy ice and rain. No injuries or casualties were reported, Alfaro said.


A man with a bike walks on hail in the eastern area of Guadalajara on June 30. (Ulises Ruiz/AFP/Getty Images)

How The Advance Weather Forecast Got Good

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Today, you can pull out your phone and know the weather a week in advance.

That’s pretty neat. And it’s all because weather forecasting — specifically, the supercomputer-driven modelling which crunches huge amounts of data and predicts future outcomes — has gotten really good. A six-day weather forecast today is as good as a two-day forecast was in the 1970s.

Andrew Blum wanted to know how those forecasts got made, and his curiosity led him to research and write The Weather Machine: A Journey Inside the Forecast. He says he first got the idea for the book when he saw a forecast for Hurricane Sandy eight days in advance of its arrival.

“That length of that time just seemed astonishing to me,” Blum says. “And it also seemed crazy to me that it wasn’t the expert hurricane forecasters, you know, sort of putting the pieces together in their minds — it was really the outputs of these computer models that they are responding to.”

In an interview, he explains the international network of forecasting systems — and the threat that privatization poses to that network.


Interview Highlights

 

On weather forecasting being both banal and extreme

On how the systems work

The first thing is to know what the weather is, so you can know what the weather will be. That’s the crux of it. So you need as complete observations of the global atmosphere as possible, which means coming from satellites and weather buoys and from sensors on airliners. And then once you know what it is, what you can do is then begin to run it forward in time. But rather than just being plugged into the supercomputers — you know, in comes the present and out comes the future — the models are really a kind of ongoing concern. … They run ahead in time, and then every six hours or every 12 hours, they compare their own forecast with the latest observations. And so the models in reality are … sort of dancing together, where the model makes a forecast and it’s corrected slightly by the observations that are coming in.

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This volcano just erupted after nearly a century of silence. Astronauts captured the breathtaking scene from 254 miles above. ~ The Washington Post

The Raikoke volcano erupts June 22. (NASA)

June 26 at 3:24 PM

Watching a volcano erupt would be cool. But having a front-row seat 254 miles above the volcano? That would be a view.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured the breathtaking scene Saturday showing the vigorous eruption of the Raikoke volcano.

Raikoke is an uninhabited island along the Kuril chain, a necklace of narrow strip islands draped 500 miles from northern Japan to northeast Russia. Formerly owned by Japan, the volcanic island — which occupies an area less than two square miles — is under the control of Russia, and has been since World War II.

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I Spy, Via Spy Satellite: Melting Himalayan Glaciers ~ NPR

The world’s glaciers are melting faster than before, but it still takes decades to see changes that are happening at a glacial pace.

To look back in time, researchers are turning to a once-secret source: spy satellite imagery from the 1970s and 1980s, now declassified. “The actual imagery is freely available for download on the USGS website, and people can use it,” says Josh Maurer, a doctoral student at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Maurer is the lead author of a study using satellite imagery to show that in the past 20 years, Himalayan glaciers melted twice as fast as they did in the 1980s and ’90s. The work was published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

The spy satellite images come from KH-9 Hexagon military satellites, launched during the Cold War to help the U.S. peer over the Iron Curtain, says Summer Rupper, a co-author of the study. Each satellite was about the size of a school bus and carried miles of film. Packaged in buckets equipped with parachutes, the film was later ejected into the upper atmosphere and plucked out of the air over the Pacific Ocean by Air Force pilots. Most Hexagon images were declassified in 2011 as a continuation of a 1995 executive order by President Bill Clinton to release spy satellite footage that was “scientifically or environmentally useful.”

Maurer’s study compares the spy satellite images, mostly from the mid-1970s, with more recent images taken by ASTER, an instrument attached to a NASA satellite that was developed jointly by the U.S. and Japan and launched in 1999.

There’s a history of researchers using declassified surveillance images. Some scientistshave used spy satellite data to study Arctic ice cover, Antarctic streams, meteor trajectories and smaller-scale glacier studies. Maurer says his team figured out an efficient way to turn satellite images into 3D elevation models over a large region.

“What we’re able to do using spy satellites is to cross the entire Himalayan range, [and measure] hundreds of glaciers of all different types and sizes, over a much longer period of time,” says Rupper, an associate professor of geography at the University of Utah.

The Himalayan mountain range, home to Mount Everest, holds tens of thousands of glaciers. The study authors looked at 650 of them, across a 1,240-mile swath. They found that, on average, the Himalayan glaciers lost 10 inches of ice per year from 1975 to 2000. As average global temperatures increased, the average loss rate doubled to a loss of 20 inches of ice per year from 2000 to 2016.

Glaciologist Etienne Berthier of the French national research agency CNRS, who was not affiliated with the research, said via email that the fact that the study used the same method of analysis across the Himalayas, “[made] their conclusion of doubling of mass loss rate very convincing.”

The Himalayas contain many different types of glaciers — such as those covered in debris or located near bodies of water — in many different environments. The researchers were surprised to find that the rate of melt was consistent across all the glaciers they studied. “In the east, the precipitation in the Himalayas occurs in the middle of the summertime [driven by monsoon winds], whereas in the west, most of the snow comes [in the winter] along a westerly storm track,” Rupper says. “So you actually have two very different settings for these glaciers. Yet, from east to west, we’re seeing a relatively uniform change in mass.”

That the Himalayan glaciers are melting faster signals unpredictability in coming years. Those glaciers supply fresh water to mountain communities and feed rivers that billions of people in South Asia rely on.

Sonam Futi Sherpa, a doctoral student at Arizona State University, co-authored a paper on how glaciers in the Everest region change with precipitation and storms. She says: “It’s important to have long-term monitoring, not just in Nepal,” where she’s from, “but in Bhutan, Tibet, other places” for two main reasons: figuring out future water availability and anticipating possibly catastrophic events such as floods and landslides.

Deborah Balk of the City University of New York, who formerly served on a National Research Council panel on Himalayan glaciers and climate change, said via email that “understanding glacial ice loss is very important, particularly in South Asia where the consequences of climate change are already unfolding” — consequences such as extreme heat in India, sea-level rise and salinization in Bangladesh, and regional flooding.

Over the next 80 years, according to a 2019 study of the Hindu Kush Himalaya region, up to two-thirds of the Himalayan glaciers are projected to melt because of climate change.

A view of Changri Nup, a typical debris-covered glacier in the Everest region, highlights the glacier’s complex surface characteristics, including patches of rock debris and exposed ice cliffs.

Josh Maurer

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Rising Temperatures Ravage the Himalayas, Rapidly Shrinking Its Glaciers ~ NYT

The Khumbu glacier sits between Mt. Everest and the Lhotse-Nuptse ridge. The glacier is receding and pools of water are now a common scene along the length of itCredit Heath Holden/Getty Images

Climate change is “eating” the glaciers of the Himalayas, posing a grave threat to hundreds of millions of people who live downstream, a study based on 40 years of satellite data has shown.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, concluded that the glaciers have lost a foot and a half of ice every year since 2000, melting at a far faster pace than in the previous 25-year period. In recent years, the glaciers have lost about eight billion tons of water a year. The study’s authors described it as equivalent to the amount of water held by 3.2 million Olympic-size swimming pools.

The study adds to a growing and grim body of work that points to the dangers of global warming for the Himalayas, which are considered the water towers of Asia and an insurance policy against drought.

In February, a report produced by the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development warned that the Himalayas could lose up to a third of their ice by the end of the century, even if the world can fulfill its most ambitious goal of keeping global average temperatures from rising only 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels.

That goal, which scientists have identified as vital to avert catastrophic heat waves and other extreme weather events, is nowhere close to being met. Average global temperatures have risen by one degree already in the last 150 years. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb. And scientists estimate that we are on track to raise the average global temperature between 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.

Another study, published in May in Nature, found that Himalayan glaciers are melting faster in summer than they are being replenished by snow in winter. In the warm seasons, meltwater from the mountains feeds rivers that provide drinking water and irrigation for crops.

The retreat of glaciers is one of the most glaring consequences of rising global temperatures. Around the world, vanishing glaciers will mean less water for people, livestock and crops.

Bald Eagle Caught Elegantly … Swimming?

Yes, bald eagles are really good at swimming, a fact some of us learned this week from a viral video published by New Hampshire TV station WMUR.

In it, a bald eagle’s white head bobs rhythmically through the water. Occasionally a wing can be seen as the bird does an avian equivalent of the butterfly stroke. It moves quickly and gracefully through the water, covering a considerable distance before it reaches the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. It calmly strides onto land, shaking the water from its feathers before it strikes a watchful, picturesque pose.

The video was shot by Tyler Blake, who spotted the display early in the morning before he headed to his construction job.

“I ran down to the docks and I saw an eagle flapping in the water,” Blake told WMUR. “I’m, like, ‘Wow!’ I wasn’t sure if it was hurt or something.”

That’s because bald eagles are open-water foragers, catching fish straight out of rivers and lakes. Typically, they will spot a fish on the surface of the water and divebomb down, talons outstretched. Watson says usually, they snatch the fish off the surface while keeping their feathers relatively dry, then fly back up into the air with a tasty meal.

But sometimes, that hunting maneuver gets a little more complicated.

“It may have gone as planned, they just got a bigger fish and said, ‘I’m going to stick with this, I can make it to shore and so it’s a good deal,’ ” Watson says. Or, the bird might have missed the fish and ended up in the water.

Either way, the eagle needs to start swimming, because “their feathers get soaked and they can’t fly away,” Watson says. “Throughout the years I’ve seen them swim a lot of times and usually it’s because they fly out and attempt to catch a fish in the water and maybe get waterlogged.”

This one doesn’t appear to have a fish, though, probably meaning that it either missed or released the fish. And even though an eagle swimming is not necessarily a sign of distress because the birds are capable swimmers, Watson says there have been cases of eagles drowning.

“It takes a lot of energy to swim in the water,” he says. “It’s a natural flying motion … just more difficult to do that in the water.”

Eagles have strong chest muscles from flying. Just as with the butterfly stroke, Watson says, “they actually use the wingtips and push down in the water with their wings.”

This isn’t the first time a bald eagle has been caught on video swimming. Here’s a video posted on YouTube of an eagle swimming in Alaska in 2011 that shows another angle of the bird’s powerful movements: