Naturalist Nights 2017 | Jeff Lukas
The invigorating climate of the Roaring Fork Valley—with mild summers, a long snow season, and abundant sunshine—drives year-round recreation and tourism, rushing creeks and rivers, hay meadows, and a vibrant palette of ecosystems. The Roaring Fork has also seen lower overall risk from many weather and climate hazards that are more prevalent elsewhere in Colorado, though maybe with luck having played a part.
But human-caused climate change has already warmed Colorado and the West, with yet more warming to come. A warmer atmosphere is a thirstier atmosphere, tending to pull more moisture from the snowpacks, the meadows, the streams and rivers, and the ecosystems. What change (if not loss) will the future climate cause in these key features of the valley? Will the future climate bring more risks for residents and visitors than the current climate, and in what ways?
Jeff Lukas is a Research Integration Specialist with the Western Water Assessment, a NOAA-supported research program based at the University of Colorado Boulder. For the past 15 years, Jeff has worked closely with water managers and other decision-makers in the Rocky Mountain West to help them understand and prepare for climate-related vulnerabilities. He was lead author of the 2014 Climate Change in Colorado report for the Colorado Water Conservation Board, summarizing the latest science on observed climate trends and future climate projections for the state. Jeff has a B.A. in Geography from the University of Colorado Boulder and an M.S. in Forestry from the University of Montana. (Photo by Ken Neubecker)
Naturalist Nights are brought to you through a partnership between Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Wilderness Workshop, and Roaring Fork Audubon.