Climate change already playing out in West, report says

Posted: Dec 20, 2012

Written by

AMY JOI O'DONOGHUE, Deseret News
Colorado River

A new report says the effects of climate change are already being felt in bug-infested forests of the Intermountain West, in reduced flows of the Colorado River basin and in the amount of snow that falls in the Rocky Mountains.

What is key, the report stresses, is how state and federal governments are responding and what land and natural resource conservation strategies can be embraced or expanded to counter the impacts.

In addition to climate changes causing heat waves in the summer, the report highlights a surprise revelation that its biggest effect occurs in the winter months. Those warmer winters are enhancing pest outbreaks and accelerating the melting of snowpack each year, reducing the amount of water that's available later when needed.

The report, Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity, Ecoystems and Ecosystem Services, was peer-reviewed by the U.S. Geological Survey and drew on the expertise of 60 contributors from government agencies, universities and private, non-profit organizations such as The Nature Conservancy.

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