New report details effects of climate change on Colorado’s water

An new report released today by the Western Water Assessment and the Colorado Water Conservation Board investigates how Colorado’s water supply will be effected by climate change.

Increased temperatures and changes to spring runoff patterns will result in an increased need in both cities and rural areas and farms that draw water from rivers. Spring runoff currently starts one to four weeks earlier than 30 years ago.

The latest climate models are inconclusive as to whether there will be increasing or decreasing overall precipitation, yet even with more precipitation,  “skiers, farmers and cities may not benefit because a warmer atmosphere will pull more moisture out of the state’s snowpack, soils, crops and other plants”, the report states.

“Despite some uncertainties around precipitation, it’s clear that as temperatures rise in Colorado, there will be impacts on our water resources,” said Jeff Lukas, lead author of the new report and a researcher at the Western Water Assessment, a program of the University of Colorado Boulder funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Current models indicate that temperatures will increase between 2.5 and 6.5 degrees by the year 2050.

CU-Boulder’s Jeff Lukas, lead author of the report, says Colorado has been getting much warmer the past three decades.