Warming saps Colorado flows by 16% over 100 yearsNews Type: Regional Source: Mountain West News
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Between 1916‐2014, the Upper Colorado River Basin naturalized streamflow declined by 16.5 percent, despite the fact that annual precipitation in the UCRB over that period increased slightly, according to a new study.
Warming temperatures throughout the Colorado River watershed accounted for more than half the decline in flows, [Colorado State University researcher and study co-author Brad Udall]. Other factors include changes to precipitation patterns and loss of snowpack in high altitudes.
“The impacts of temperature are very large on this river and if you believe temperatures are going to increase — as every reputable scientist now does — you then have to conclude that the future of the river is going to be a future with much less water in it,” Udall says.