Climate change

Four U.S. Senators are objecting to a program that teaches TV weathercasters about the science of climate change. As the Mountain West region deals with record high temperatures, that’s left meteorologists here figuring out how to report on the science of the weather.   

Record-breaking temperatures are scorching the United States with parts of our region seeing all-time highs. A number of heat-related deaths are already being reported in the U.S.

There is a moment as heatstroke sets in when the body, no longer able to cool itself, stops sweating. Joey Azuela remembers it well.

"My body felt hot, like, in a different way," he says. "It was like a 'I'm cooking' hot."

Three summers ago, Azuela, then 14, and his father were hiking a trail in one of Phoenix's rugged desert preserves. It was not an unusually hot day for Phoenix, and they had gotten a later start than usual. By the time they reached the top, Azuela was weak and nauseous. They had run out of water.

A new study published in Science magazine found that many of the world’s trout species are facing extinction due to climate change, overfishing and pollution.

Climate change is expected to exacerbate wildfires, drought and flooding throughout the Mountain West. Some cities are looking at how these changes will affect their town and how they can prepare.

The National Park Service has released a report on how sea level rise could impact its sites. The publication was delayed by about a year, and as we’ve reported, there were concerns over possible censorship in earlier drafts.

Maria Caffrey worked for years with the National Park Service researching and writing the report, only to wait for months for its actual release.

Tom Koerner, USFWS

Early one spring evening, I meet University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute’s Zoe Nelson at a rest area between Gillette and Buffalo. Shadows grow long on red bluffs and green sagebrush prairie. It’s that time of night when all the birds are going bonkers. We’re out here as part of a program to get regular folks like me and my husband, Ken—he’s tonight’s driver—to help keep track of short-eared owls. The program is called WAFLS or Western Asio Flammeus Landscape Study.

President Trump just dismantled policies requiring federal agencies reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and meet other environmental targets.


Coastal communities across the country are suing oil companies for contributing to climate change. Now, a lawsuit in the landlocked interior joins the list.

At the heart of the lawsuit is this realization: Climate change is expensive. Just look at worsening wildfires and floods nationally. 

If you’re sneezing a bit more this year, well you’re in good company. At least 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year. But that number is climbing, and it may be related to climate change.  

Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling for an investigation into the National Park Service, pointing to a report they say follows a "pattern" of censoring scientists who study climate change. So I checked in with the scientist who wrote the latest report and is now worried about her future.

The dry and arid climate of the Western U.S. is marching eastward, thanks to climate change.

That’s the conclusion of a set of studies from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Institute. 


Comparison of North Atlantic and global marine-margin temperature reconstructions with our pollen-inferred mean annual temperature reconstruction for North America and Europe.
Jeremiah Marsicek/University of Wyoming / Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature

A paper published by a former University of Wyoming graduate student shows recent temperatures across Europe and North America are at unprecedented highs. The report, titled "Reconciling Divergent Trends and Millennial Variations in Holocene Temperatures” looked at climate patterns over the past 11,000 years.

The Modern West 30: Melting And Migration

Dec 19, 2017
JOE RIIS

This time, we visit melting ice fields, ask whether climate change is fueling summer fires, and step into the hooves of big animals as they migrate to winter ranges.

Joe Giersch, USGS

Scientists at the University of Wyoming have discovered an insect thought to be extinct in the region in four streams in the Tetons.

The glacier stonefly was believed to only survive in streams in Glacier National Park and the Beartooth Absorka Range in Montana. UW Invertebrate Zoologist Lusha Tronstad said the discovery has put the decision-making process on hold over whether to list the species.

Stephanie Joyce

Every four years the federal government is required to release a report on the world’s changing climate and this year's was the most comprehensive report since Congress mandated it. It states there’s “no convincing alternative explanation” to climate change other than that humans are the cause. The report is the work of more than a dozen federal agencies, but Rhode Island Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse says the political appointees in the Trump administration have buried their heads in tar sands.

Joe Giersch of USGS

As climate change melts away glaciers, it’s also drying up the habitat of two insects who live in the cold mountain streams that flow out of those glaciers. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether to list them as endangered. According to the Fish and Wildlife biologist James Boyd, warming temperatures are causing the glacier stonefly and the meltwater lednian stonefly’s habitat to shrink and what’s left of it to become too hot.

Peter Fitzgerald, Wikimedia

A draft of the Interior Department’s five-year strategic plan has been leaked - it was first obtained by The Nation. The 50-page document draws a road map for how the federal agency intends to prioritize energy dominance.

Peabody Energy

At the University of Wyoming’s College of Law, Professor Sam Kalen was looking through old case files. His office had law books and binders of cases strewn on chairs and tables as well as computer miscellany, like keyboards and old monitors, sitting on top of them.

At his desk, he rifled through a thick law book, co-authored by him, then switched to his dual-monitor computer screens. He was looking for any mention of climate assessments in old federal leasing cases back to the 1990s. It didn’t take long.

“So for example, here’s an earlier one,” Kalen said.

Melodie Edwards

We drive for hours on a terrible dirt road to reach the ice patch, but Colorado State University archeology professor emeritus Larry Todd says, heck, this is nothing.

“Today we'll be able to get in the truck and drive for an hour and a half to an ice patch. That's about as close as we can get,” he says. “More often it's, go to the trailhead, load up the horses and pack mules and ride for six to eight hours to get into the area where you can start studying those.”

Kate Foster

It’s another day of hazy skies at the airport outside Laramie. A team of atmospheric scientists from the University of Wyoming are busy unloading from a recent trip to Montana to study the fires where all this smoke originated. For weeks, skies across the west have been filled with this billowing white smoke. Many scientists agree that the warming climate is causing more extreme fires, but it’s hazy whether all that smoke is generating even more global warming as part of a self-perpetuating cycle. Scientists like these guys are scrambling to find out.

Kate Foster

While Wyoming hasn’t had many forest fires this summer, plenty of smoke has blown in from fires in other states like Montana, California and Oregon. Atmospheric scientists at the University of Wyoming have been studying the soot from those fires to find out what role it plays in climate change. They’re chasing fires around the West this summer doing their research in a state-of-the-art mobile research lab.

Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the Yellowstone area grizzly bear from the endangered species list. On Wednesday, wildlife and tribal groups filed a lawsuit to stop the delisting.

Madelyn Beck/Inside Energy

A changing climate may be bad PR for fossil fuels, but it could help their bottom line.

Two major coal companies released earnings reports in late July stating how higher temperatures mean coal stockpiles are being eaten up. Both Arch Coal and Cloud Peak Energy are hoping for a long, hot summer so that trend continues.

The Jackson town council has voted unanimously to join other cities and states around the country to commit to the Paris Climate accord, an agreement among 196 of the world’s nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. President Trump recently pulled the U.S. out of that agreement, saying it wasn’t a good deal for the country.

Arturo de Frias Marques / WITH USE UNDER CC BY-SA 4.0

The U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wyoming have published a new study showing that polar bears are having to expend more energy to keep up with faster drifting sea ice.

The study, titled "Increased Arctic sea ice drift alters polar bear movements and energetics," came out in the June 5 issue of Global Change Biology.

U.S. Department of State

President Trump has decided to leave the 2015 Paris climate agreement and many advocates in the coal industry say the move will be beneficial for Wyoming.

Coal production has been in decline for close to a decade and Wyoming’s congressional delegation says that leaving the climate agreement could help turn that around. Economists, though, often blame natural gas and renewable energy as reasons for coal's decline - not regulation.

Governor Matt Mead said Wyoming will need more than this for the coal industry to rebound. 

Chris Drury

In late 2010, English sculptor Chris Drury visited the University of Wyoming's campus. The school had commissioned artwork from him, though he still hadn’t decided what to make. As he spoke with locals around Laramie, Drury learned how trees in the Rockies were dying due to warmer winters due to climate change. He wanted to draw a connection between the trees' downfall and the state’s contribution to global warming through the coal, oil and gas industries.

Wikipedia

President Donald Trump has just finished his first 100 days in office. When it comes to energy and the environment, he has already taken some aggressive steps toward fulfilling major campaign promises. Inside Energy reporter Leigh Paterson joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard to review President Trump’s energy policy in his first few months. 

Melodie Edwards / Wyoming Public Radio

The 8th annual Laramie Local Food Gathering will offer 12 workshops on “modern homesteading.” Topics range from how to raise small animals for meat and fiber to composting and soil improvement tips, and even one workshop just for kids on edible insects.

Chris Nicholson is director of the Water Resources Data System at the University of Wyoming. He’ll be speaking at the event on how climate change could affect gardening and ranching in southeast Wyoming.

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