Durango Telegraph - A quick look at local climate change
A quick look at local climate change

Climate change is no stranger to Southwest Colorado and La Plata County. Local and regional changes in climate have been modeled extensively, and Southwest Colorado is expected to witness dramatic changes in the next 60 years. A few of the more significant predictions follow:

• Southwest Colorado has warmed approximately 2° F in the last three decades, and temperatures are expected to increase by as much as an additional 5.5° F by 2050.

• Durango’s climate is projected to migrate to higher elevations, and desert climates are expected to progress into the valleys.

• In the last 25 years, run-off has already moved up two weeks earlier. Warmer temperatures would mean even earlier snowmelt and peak river flows

• Water storage and river levels are expected to fall as irrigation needs rise

• Diminished agricultural production and an increase in agricultural pests are expected

• Wildfire occurrence and forest die-offs would rise with increases in temperature

• Warmer temperatures would lead to shifts in elevation ranges of plants and animals and threats to the existence of some species

• Climate change is expected to mean more winter rain on the one hand and increased storm severity on the other