Climate change

Diego Delso

Researchers at the University of Wyoming are studying how moose cool themselves down.

UW researcher Tana Verzuh said the moose population in the Snowy Range is declining and that rising temperatures may be a cause.

BlackRockSolar

  

Environmental groups are hoping to see action on climate, energy, and environmental justice when President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January.

Screetshot of initial court document in a case that's been ongoing for four years
Court Listener

Last March, a federal court ordered the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management to provide better analysis of the climate impacts of oil and gas leasing on public land. After receiving that analysis, the judge rules it's not enough.

Researchers have found that it’s not just forests on the landscape that can help mitigate climate change. Meadows also provide an efficient way to keep carbon out of the atmosphere.

The U.S. is now officially out of the Paris climate accord

Climate policy is mixed around the Mountain West, but many states are seeing action and a transition to renewable energy regardless of federal leadership. 

Michael Dillon

Climate change is forcing insects to move to higher elevations.

Dulcinea Groff

A researcher at the University of Wyoming studied the history of seabirds in the Falkland Islands, off the tip of Argentina. The goal was to learn how climate change affected the ecosystem in the past.

Mike Goad via Pixabay License

Old Faithful is known for being, well, faithful. But it wasn't always that way. In fact, according to new research published in Geophysical Research Letters, it once stopped erupting for nearly 100 years.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Researchers at the University of Wyoming are developing and testing a computer model that predicts wildfire growth.

Drought, wildfire and record-breaking heat are all part of the current climate landscape in the Mountain West. 

It’s a triple whammy that’s expected to continue into the coming months. 

In June of 2002, nearly half a million acres burned in the Arizona high country. At the time, the Rodeo-Chediski Fire was the largest wildfire in the state’s history. There was too much fuel in the forest, a buildup that began more than a century ago. Enough people saw the record-breaking fire and agreed that something needed to be done to prevent the next big fire.

On the side of a rocky hill in Sheridan County in northern Wyoming, Brain Mealor is showing off all of his weeds.

“Here, let me grab a cheatgrass so you can see it, too,” he said, plucking a wispy sprig from among the grasses. “They all kind of look the same this time of year.”

Mealor is the director of the University of Wyoming’s Research and Extension Center in Sheridan. He’s performing experiments on how to manage and kill invasive annual grasses, like cheatgrass, ventenata and medusa head, with herbicides.

For many communities in the West, the water that flows out of kitchen faucets and bathroom showerheads starts high up in the mountains, as snowpack tucked under canopies of spruce and pine trees.

This summer’s record-breaking wildfires have reduced some of those headwater forests to burnt trees and heaps of ash. In high alpine ecosystems, climate change has tipped the scales toward drier forests, lessened snowpack, hotter summers and extended fire seasons.

Major wildfires have burned through the Western U.S. in 2020, breaking records for their scale and damage. As firefighters tamp down their immediate effects, those who live nearby are coming to grips with the lingering danger of wildfires. Even long after the flames are gone, residents face a serious increase in the threat of flooding.

National Park Service hydrologist Erin White likes to call Yellowstone “America’s first water park.”

It’s home to the headwaters of multiple major rivers and hundreds of waterfalls. Thousands of geysers, mudpots, and hot springs—heated by an underground supervolcano—gush, bubble, and boil in the national park’s 2.2 million acres, too.

William F. Wood via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

Environmental groups have issued an intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service if the agency does not put the proposal to put wolverines under Endangered Species Act protections back on the table.

A recent report card on climate change education in public middle and high schools across the U.S. ranked Wyoming at the top of the class with a solid A. The rest of the Mountain West was mixed.

Drought.gov

A $48 million project will fund climate monitoring stations across the Upper Missouri River Basin in five states, including Wyoming.

Chip Redmond / InciWeb

Every four years there's a near universal complaint that western issues get passed over in presidential elections. Not this year, which is mostly because large swaths of the West have been burning.

Firefighters have long studied how fires behave to figure out where they’re going and how to keep people safe. But wildfires are becoming more unpredictable.


On a frosty early August morning, Jordan Harrison and Corey Anco packed for a day of off-trail hiking in the Beartooth Mountains. Anco is the Draper Natural History Museum assistant curator and Harrison is a field biologist for WEST, Inc.

Large numbers of migratory birds have reportedly dropped dead in New Mexico and Colorado.

There’s still confusion over the deaths, like how many died and what exactly killed them. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believes the bird deaths in Colorado and New Mexico were caused by an unusual cold front.


The Mountain West has seen plenty of wildfires this year, but nothing like the catastrophic large fires still burning along the West Coast. That's largely thanks to a relatively wet spring.

Many communities in the West are growing, and in some places that’s putting pressure on already scarce water supplies.

That’s the case in northern Colorado, where a proposed set of reservoirs promises to allow small suburbs to keep getting bigger. The project, called the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), has stirred up a familiar debate over how the West grows, and whether water should be a limiting factor.

Oscar Vilca

A new study suggests that glacial lakes are growing as the earth's temperatures increase.

The Science Behind Utah’s Big Wind Storm

Sep 10, 2020

The wild winds that swept across Northern Utah Monday and Tuesday were caused by a storm system and cold front that came down from Canada, according to Meteorologist Christine Cruz with the National Weather Service.

The system, which brought unusually strong winds, made its way through the central plains of the U.S. and into the Wasatch Front, she said.

“It was a very cold air mass behind that front and we were very warm ahead of it,” Cruz said. “We were in the 90s to even 100s ahead of it, and this air behind it was in the 30s and 40s.”

Bernard Spragg

A study by the Bureau of Reclamation predicts that the current water levels in the Colorado River Basin will only postpone water shortages.

Brocken Inaglory / (CC BY-SA 3.0)

As August comes to an end, conditions are ripe for potential fires.

Many counties and federal agencies have issued fire restrictions throughout the state due to the prime fire conditions: hot, dry and windy.

Matthew Lachniet

Caves in Nevada can tell scientists about the history of the climate in the West and what it might look like in the future.

No, it's not a sci-fi movie. A fire tornado touched down near the Nevada-California border Saturday, during the Loyalton Fire about 25 miles west of Reno, Nev.

Pages