Coyote Gulch


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  Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Water policy
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Pat Williams (via the Albuquerque Tribune): "As always, smart journalists found it easy to prod the candidates toward accusation, all the while ignoring the one issue over which Westerners are always ready to fight. That issue is, of course, water.

"Water presents the great national imperative in the Rockies, home to the headwaters of the Missouri and Mississippi to the east and the Colorado and Columbia to the west, but not a single question about water scarcity was asked of those who would be our president."

Thanks to Joan McCarter for the link.

"2008 pres"
6:55:34 PM     

2007 Pecora Group Award
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USGS: "The prestigious 2007 William T. Pecora Award has been presented to scientists who have achieved significant accomplishments in Earth Observation Research.

"The award is presented annually by The Department of the Interior and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in honor of the former Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

"The 2007 Pecora Group Award was presented to the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission for the design, development, and successful operation of a new satellite-based measurement of the Earth's gravity resulting in significant contributions to the understanding of the changing global environment. The presentation took place at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting on December 10, 2007, in San Francisco."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

"colorado water"
6:44:01 PM     

Aurora to join lawsuit over storage contract with Reclamation?
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Well now, this should be fun to watch. Aurora is going to try to get in to the lawsuit over the Aurora Long-Term Contract with Reclamation, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Aurora wants to intervene in a lawsuit by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District that seeks to block a deal for the city to receive water from the Arkansas River...

In a court filing Monday, the city said the lawsuit "threatens to deprive Aurora's population of a crucial and well-established source of fresh water." It said, "Justice demands that Aurora be permitted to intervene" as a defendant in the case because of its "profound and direct impacts on its residents." The city said it has conferred with the water district and the bureau and they do not oppose Aurora's intervention...

The lawsuit, among other issues, challenges the bureau's authority to issue contracts to water users outside of the Arkansas River basin. In Monday's filing, Aurora said its use of the bureau's Fryingpan-Arkansas Project reservoirs "has, for more than 20 years, been regulated by a series of short-term" contracts that permit Aurora to store its water when the reservoirs have capacity exceeding the needs of Fry-Ark users. Aurora exchanges water from upstream of the reservoirs for water it has rights to in the lower valley. The city said Monday the contract "would allow Aurora to continue to transfer municipal water supply using excess capacity" in the water project...

Aurora's attorney in the case, Stuart Somach, speaking from his office in Sacramento, Calif., said the bureau's answer to the lawsuit is due Dec. 24. Somach said that Aurora, if granted permission to be an intervenor, would answer the lawsuit no later than when Reclamation answers it. In Monday's filing, Somach wrote that the bureau and Aurora likely are to offer differing defenses to the lawsuit. For the federal government, the lawsuit tests the limit of its authority to contract for excess capacity in federal reservoirs, he said. For Aurora, the lawsuit "is a direct and material threat to an important source of water."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

"colorado water"
6:34:34 PM     


Daily Kos: "Yesterday the flailing Mitt Romney launched a new ad against Mike Huckabee for being soft on immigrants. Huckabee responds with an ad, consistent with his new nutty immigration 'plan,' showing how tough he is. In the special election in OH-5 that concludes today three sets of GOP ads - by the candidate, by the NRCC and now by Freedom's Watch - all focus on immigrants. Last week Tom Tancredo, still at 1 percent in the Republican race for President, launched a new and extraordinary ad that ends with these words 'Deport those who don't belong. Make sure they never come back.' For the GOP it has become all immigration all the time."

"2008 pres"
6:18:45 PM     

? for President?

TPM Election Central: "New poll numbers are just out from The Washington Post and ABC News, and they offer some striking findings: Rudy is falling fast among multiple voter groups, especially conservatives, something that helps explain Mike Huckabee's extraordinary surge." "The first negative TV ad of the cycle comes out with Mitt Romney attacking Mike Huckabee's immigration position. The commentariat and the Huckabee campaign have responded pretty sharply."

Political Wire: "The latest Rasmussen Reports survey is the latest to find growing support for Mike Huckabee in Iowa's Republican presidential race. Huckabee leads with 39% of the vote, followed by Romney with 23% support, Rudy Giuliani at 8%, Fred Thompson at 8% and Sen. John McCain at 6%."

Political Wire: "A new Insider Advantage poll in South Carolina finds Sen. Barack Obama leading the Democratic presidential race with 28% support, followed by Sen. Hillary Clinton at 22%, John Edwards at 14% and Sen. Joe Biden at 10%."

Political Wire: "A new CNN/Opinion Research national survey finds Sen. Hillary Clinton's lead in the Democratic race shrinking to just ten points. Clinton now leads with 40% support, followed by Sen. Barack Obama at 30% and John Edwards at 14%. Among Republicans, Rudy Giuliani clings to a lead with 24%, followed by Mike Huckabee at 22%, Mitt Romney at 16%, Sen. John McCain at 13%, Fred Thompson at 10%, and Rep. Ron Paul at 6%."

"2008 pres"
6:12:32 PM     

War on terror

Andrew Sullivan: "Lost."

TPM Muckraker: "For years, the CIA denied recording any interrogations of al-Qaeda detainees. For years, the Bush administration denied issuing any legal authorization for torture. And for years, members of Congress claimed ignorance of what the CIA and the Bush administration had in store for detained members of al-Qaeda. All of these denials have proven false."

"2008 pres"
6:10:22 PM     

Science Debate 2008
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The Scientific Activist: "Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum of The Intersection (along with Derek Araujo, Matthew Chapman, Austin Dacey, Lawrence Krauss, Shawn Lawrence Otto, and John Rennie) are spearheading a grassroots movement called Sciencedebate 2008 to try to convince the powers that be of the need for a presidential debate on science in 2008. For a comprehensive list of the reasons why this is a good idea, I would have to rehash almost everything I've written on this blog... and then some. The point is that science is playing a growing role in society and politics, affecting in some way almost every issue a future president would face. In addition, there are science-specific issues that don't always get the consideration they deserve. And, of course, there is the growing trend of politicization of science that needs to be addressed."

"2008 pres"
7:12:46 AM     

? for President?

Political Wire: "Political Wire has learned that new Strategic Vision polls to be released later this week show Mike Huckabee increasing his lead in Iowa, jumping into the lead in Georgia and moving into second place behind Rudy Giuliani in Wisconsin. On the Democratic side, Sen. Barack Obama leads in Iowa. But while Sen. Hillary Clinton still leads in both Wisconsin and Georgia she is losing considerable support in recent weeks."

Political Wire: "A new SurveyUSA poll in South Carolina finds Mike Huckabee with a double digit lead in the Republican presidential race. Huckabee leads with 30%, followed by Mitt Romney at 19%, Fred Thompson at 18%, Rudy Giuliani at 13% and Sen. John McCain at 10%."

"2008 pres"
7:05:54 AM     

H.R. 2262, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007
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Towns across Colorado and the west are rallying behind H.R. 2262, the Hard Rock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007, according to The Summit Daily News "reg". From the article:

Towns throughout the Rocky Mountain West that oppose mines near water supplies and scenic areas are backing efforts to revamp a federal law regulating hard-rock mining that's changed little since Ulysses S. Grant was president. A bill passed by the U.S. House in November would impose the first-ever federal royalties on gold, silver, copper and other metals mines, beef up environmental controls and give federal agencies the ability to say "No" to a mine that would irreparably harm the environment. For many, that last part is the heart of the bill. Under the 1872 law, federal agencies can scrutinize a company's plan and require environmental safeguards. But they can't decide, as they can with oil and gas drilling, that no development should occur in a certain spot.

Cody Wertz, Salazar's spokesman, said Salazar is working with others on a version of the bill that can pass the Senate. "Royalties is one of the areas where they're trying to find some compromise," Wertz said. Since 1872, according to the Washington-based environmental group Earthworks, at least $245 billion worth of gold, silver, copper, uranium and other metals have been mined on public lands with nothing going to taxpayers. Popovich said the proposed royalty of 4 percent of gross revenue on existing operations and 8 percent on new mines would be among the highest worldwide in a country with some of the highest wages and costs. Industry officials and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., prefer Nevada's system, which charges royalties on net income. The 1872 law also allowed people to patent - or buy - public land for mining at the rock-bottom prices of $2.50 to $5 an acre. There's been a congressional moratorium on patents since the mid-1990s and the House bill would permanently eliminate them. For Flynn, the crux of the bill is authorizing federal agencies to balance other values - the environment, economics - with mining. Currently, hard-rock mining trumps all other uses, he said.

That's how Crested Butte Mayor Alan Bernholtz sees it. Flynn's law firm represented the town, Gunnison County and the High Country Citizens Alliance in challenging a proposed molybdenum mine on the summit of Mount Emmons. The peak, also called the Red Lady for the color of its rocks, towers over the ski community of Crested Butte in western Colorado. Bernholtz said mining is no longer a good fit with the area's tourist-based economy. He's also concerned about environmental impacts, including drinking water sources. Federal courts rejected the lawsuit, which challenged the sale of federal land on the mountain to private companies. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that only people with a competing claim to ownership can challenge such sales, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

"2008 pres"
6:46:55 AM     

Bessemer ditch shares: Another nail in agriculture's coffin?
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Here's a bit of the history of the Bessemer Ditch in an editorial from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Bessemer Irrigating Ditch was established more than 114 years ago by a group of farsighted and industrious men who recognized the potential for growing crops - on land lying east of Pueblo to the confluence of the Huerfano and Arkansas Rivers - by application of water by irrigation. This area was blessed with nearly flat lands of some of the finest soil in the world and a lengthy growing season. Early pioneers, southwest of Boone, were successful in growing irrigated vegetables using water from the Huerfano River. Early immigrant steel workers living on the Mesa and Vineland areas wanted to grow vineyards, vegetables and trees - but being in a very dry climate, had very little luck in doing so. Several industrious souls hand-dug wells - 30, 40, 50 and 60 feet deep, only to end up with a dry hole. Some did not fill up their holes. Six years after the Bessemer Ditch started running water, there was dampness in the holes and then water began filling them, making water wells a great possibility in the area under the Bessemer Ditch...

Now, the Pueblo Board of Water Works comes up with a bright idea to buy 51 percent controlling interest in the Bessemer Irrigating Ditch. Very astute and far-ahead thinking on their part, considering the water wars and takings of the burgeoning areas to the north and Kansas salivating over Colorado water. The Bessemer Ditch is a bright plum - three-acre feet per share and water rights within Lake Pueblo. It has early rights to boot, headgate in the dam, no transmission loss, little evaporation loss, quality only bested by water in Twin Lakes or Turquoise Lake. Water can be run into the Board of Water Works plant, sent down river to augment the river or trade for higher water upstream for their use or sale to other entities up north - so easy and almost no court battle.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

"colorado water"
6:38:30 AM     

January 7th deadline for rebates from Greeley Water
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From The Greeley Tribune "reg", "If you have purchased a low-flow toilet or high efficiency front-loading washer in 2007, time is running out to get your rebate from Greeley Water. The last day to turn in proof of purchase for 2007 is Jan. 7, 2008. Low-flow toilets and washing machines must have been purchased and installed between Jan. 1, 2007 and December 31, 2007 in order to qualify. Check the qualifying list of washers at Greeley Water Conservation is offering $50 rebates for low-flow toilets and $100 rebates for high efficiency washers. With your application, include the original sales receipt, date of purchase, brand name, model number. For toilets, include a picture of the old toilet destroyed so it cannot be used again."

"colorado water"
6:30:19 AM     

Climate change: The earth is a beautifully complex system
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One effect of rising CO2 levels may or may not be increased precipitation, depending on the latitude of the storm, according to The University of Colorado. From the article:

While two new studies by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences predict wetter storms for the Arctic and for the Northern Hemisphere because of global warming, whether or not this means more net precipitation depends on the latitude. "Global climate model predictions for the 21st century indicate an increase in the frequency of storms in the Arctic with no clear trend in the mid-latitudes but an increase in the amount of precipitation associated with individual storms in both regions," said Assistant Professor John Cassano of the CU-Boulder atmospheric and oceanic sciences department and lead author of one of the studies. Both studies will be published on Dec. 28 in a special edition of the Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences titled "Changes in the Arctic Freshwater System: Identification, Attribution and Impacts at Local and Global Scales." Cassano also will give a poster presentation on the work Dec. 13 during the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. According to Cassano, higher precipitation at high latitudes over the next century could influence important climate factors, such as seasonal snow cover, ice sheet growth and freshwater dilution of the Arctic Ocean. Enhancing freshwater sources to the ocean could, if substantial, affect the Atlantic's thermohaline circulation -- the ocean conveyor belt that helps maintain Western Europe's warm temperatures and plays a dominant role in global climate, he said. "Already scientists have observed higher river runoff into the Arctic Ocean, but the source of this additional runoff was unclear," Cassano said. "These studies provide one piece of the puzzle to understand this observed change." In contrast, mid-latitudes, like the continental United States, will see wetter storms but also a drop in storm frequency, effectively canceling out any change in net precipitation, he said.

Joel Finnis, a CU-Boulder doctoral student and lead author of the second study, analyzed the effects of rising CO2 levels on both the frequency and moisture content of storms over the entire Northern Hemisphere. He found that in mid-latitudes, higher storm moisture content will be offset, and in some cases exceeded, by decreases in storm frequency. "We're likely to see fewer storms carrying more water," said Finnis. "This could mean an increased chance that individual events will produce severe weather, but a decrease in overall water resources." Finnis also believes that these changes in storm frequency and moisture content will be most pronounced during the fall. As for why storms will be wetter as CO2 rises, more than 75 percent of the predicted increase in storm moisture content will be the result of the warming and moistening of the atmosphere as the global climate warms, the researchers said. "The wetter storms and higher precipitation over the Arctic are best explained by the heating of the atmosphere as greenhouse gases increase," said Cassano. "As the atmosphere warms it can hold more water and this change is largely responsible for the increase in Artic precipitation that is predicted over the next 100 years."

In other climate news the Greenland Ice Cap is melting at an increasing rate, reports The Longmont Daily Times-Call. From the article:

The 2007 melt extent on the Greenland ice sheet broke the 2005 summer melt record by 10 percent, making it the largest ever recorded there since satellite measurements began in 1979, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder climate scientist. The melting increased by about 30 percent for the western part of Greenland from 1979 to 2006, with record melt years in 1987, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2005 and 2007, said CU-Boulder Professor Konrad Steffen, director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. Air temperatures on the Greenland ice sheet have increased by about 7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1991, primarily a result of the build-up of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere, according to scientists.

Greenland is about one-fourth the size of the United States, and about 80 percent of its surface area is covered by the massive ice sheet. Greenland hosts about one-twentieth of the world's ice -- the equivalent of about 21 feet of global sea rise. The current contribution of Greenland ice melt to global sea levels is about 0.5 millimeters annually. The most sensitive regions for future, rapid change in Greenland's ice volume are dynamic outlet glaciers like Jacobshavn, which has a deep channel reaching far inland, he said. "Inclusion of the dynamic processes of these glaciers in models will likely demonstrate that the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment underestimated sea-level projections for the end of the 21st century," Steffen said. Helicopter surveys indicate there has been an increase in cylindrical, vertical shafts in Greenland's ice known as moulins, which drain melt water from surface ponds down to bedrock, he said. Moulins, which resemble huge tunnels in the ice and may run vertically for several hundred feet, switch back and forth from vertical to horizontal as they descend toward the bottom of the ice sheet, he said. "These melt-water drains seem to allow the ice sheet to respond more rapidly than expected to temperature spikes at the beginning of the annual warm season," Steffen said. "In recent years the melting has begun earlier than normal."

"2008 pres"
6:16:30 AM     

Organics boost methylation?
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From Newswise, "Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found that the presence of dissolved organic material increases the biological risk of aqueous mercury and may even serve as an environmental mercury source.

More from the article:

The greatest threat comes from a form called methylmercury, which is more easily taken up by living tissues. The methylation process, therefore, is key to understanding the potential danger posed by environmental mercury, says UW-Madison geomicrobiologist John Moreau. He presented his research findings at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco today (Dec. 10). Environmental mercury is predominantly methylated by naturally occurring bacteria known as sulfate-reducing bacteria. These bacteria - Moreau calls them "little methylmercury factories" - absorb inorganic mercury from the water, methylate it and spit methylmercury back out into the environment. "The bacteria take mercury from a form that is less toxic to humans and turn it into a form that is much more toxic," Moreau says. "[Methylation] increases mercury's toxicity by essentially putting it on a fast train into your tissue - it increases its mobility." Many previous studies have focused on the chemical interactions between mercury and sulfur, which is known to bind to inorganic mercury and may regulate how well the bacteria can absorb it. However, scientists do not understand the factors that control the methylation process itself. "Those studies have related methylation potential to geochemical variables," Moreau says. "We would like to take a bacterium that we know methylates mercury very efficiently and let it tell us what it can methylate and what it can't, under given conditions."

Moreau and colleagues at the U.S. Geological Survey, UW-Madison, the University of Colorado and Chapman University chose to look at the role of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), a richly colored brew created as plants and other organic materials decay into a soup of proteins, acids and other compounds. DOC can tint wetlands and streams shades of yellow to dark brown. DOC has noticeable effects on bacterial mercury processing. "They seem to methylate mercury better with DOC present," says Moreau. In the current studies, the scientists looked at the effects of DOC samples collected from two different organic-rich environments, a section of the Suwannee River and Florida's Everglades. "We found that different DOCs have different positive effects on methylation - they both seem to promote mercury methylation, but to different degrees," Moreau explains. Because DOC is virtually ubiquitous in aqueous environments, its effect on mercury processing may be an important factor in determining mercury bioavailability. Moreau and his colleagues are now working to understand how DOC promotes methylation. One possibility is that DOC acts indirectly by increasing bacterial growth, while another is that DOC may directly interact with the mercury itself to boost its ability to enter bacteria. Although mercury already in the environment is there to stay, Moreau says an understanding of what regulates mercury toxicity is critical for developing ecosystem-level management strategies.

"colorado water"
6:06:07 AM     

Noctilucent Clouds
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Here's an update on the AIM mission to photograph and study noctilucent clouds, from Science Daily. From the article:

NASA's AIM satellite has provided the first global-scale, full-season view of iridescent polar clouds that form 50 miles above Earth's surface. The Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) mission is the first satellite dedicated to the study of these noctilucent or "night-shining" clouds. They are called "night shining" clouds by observers on the ground because their high altitude allows them to continue reflecting sunlight after the sun has set below the horizon. AIM has provided the first global-scale view of the clouds over the entire 2007 Northern Hemisphere season with an unprecedented horizontal resolution of 3 miles by 3 miles. Very little is known about these 'clouds at the edge of space', also called Polar Mesospheric Clouds. How do they form over the summer poles, why are they being seen at lower latitudes than ever before, and why have they been growing brighter and more frequent? During its mission lifetime, AIM will observe a total of two complete polar mesospheric cloud seasons in each polar region, documenting for the first time the entire complex life cycle of Polar Mesospheric Clouds...

New results from AIM's first Northern Hemisphere season observations show:

1. The most detailed picture of the clouds ever collected showing that they appear every day, they are widespread, and they are highly variable on hourly to daily time scales.

2. That Polar Mesospheric Cloud brightness varies over horizontal scales of about two miles; and over small regions, clouds measured by AIM are ten-fold brighter than measured by previous space-based instruments.

3. The unexpected result that mesospheric ice occurs in one continuous layer extending from below the main peak at 51 miles up to around 55 miles.

4. Observations of a previously suspected, but never before seen, population of very small ice particles believed to be responsible for strong radar echoes from the summertime mesosphere. This was made possible because of the unprecedented sensitivity of the AIM measurements.

5. Polar Mesospheric Cloud structures resolved for the first time that exhibit complex features present in normal tropospheric clouds. This startling similarity suggests that the mesosphere may share some of the same dynamical processes responsible for weather near the surface. If this similarity holds up in further analysis, this opens up an entirely different view of potential mechanisms that can explain why the clouds form and how they vary.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

"colorado water"
5:57:11 AM     

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