A new paper examines historical weather records throughout Colorado to understand when and where extreme storm events happen. "Big storms” show a remarkable degree of seasonal and regional variability. For example, the damaging floods that struck the Colorado Front Range in September 2013 occurred outside of that region’s typical season for most extreme precipitation (spring– summer). That event and many others highlight the fact that extreme precipitation in Colorado has occurred historically during all seasons and at all elevations, emphasizing a year-round statewide risk.
The Forest Service's Climate Change Resource Center has released a new interactive online education module. “Climate Change Effects on Forests and Grasslands: What You Need to Know” provides a brief overview of climate change effects on water resources, vegetation growth, wildlife, and disturbances. This module, which can be used to satisfy the Forest Service Climate Change Performance Scorecard Element, was designed to be approachable and flexible for people who wish to understand observed and projected climate change effects.
With SW CSC support, a research team headed by USGS research ecologist Phillip van Mantgem has begun the first large-scale assessment of prescribed fire as a management tool for increasing forest resilience to severe drought. Using the current severe drought in the Southwest as a natural experiment, the project will combine direct measurements of tree mortality with tree-ring indices of tree health to determine the effectiveness of prescribed fire as a tool. As part of the project, the research team launched a new website with project information and contact information.