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Vanishing winter?

Bob Berwyn

Consistent with data reported from other parts of the world, scientists say winters in New England may be a week or two shorter than just a few decades ago, according to the Boston Globe.The USGS study looked at flow data from gauging stations going back 68 years along 27 rivers in New England. The study did not include rivers in urban areas, which may be affected by other changes over time such as increasing runoff from pavement, or rivers being regulated by dams that may have changed the flows, according to the Globe.Scientists are still debating the influence of greenhouse gases, but agree the temperature has risen by one degree Fahrenheit worldwide, and more at northern latitudes. This study and others like it will help document crucial and tangible effects of global warming trends, scientists say.Iced hockey player found in glacierThe Tiroler Tageszeitung reports that a glacier near the resort town of Neustift has given up the body of a Scottish-Canadian ice hockey player who was reported missing in the Alps 14 years ago. His rented snowboard and boots were found with him, the Tageszeitung reports.The find ends a long period of uncertainty for his family, according to the Glasgow Scotsman, which reports that his family made seven trips to Austria to search for the man, fearing he may have been a victim of foul play.The former New York Islanders player was last seen in August of 1989 snowboarding on the Stubaier glacier.Swiss mountains falling apartSwiss scientists have long been at the forefront of studying global climate change, and are now beginning to document what effects warming could have on permafrost areas, where the ground itself has long been frozen.According to the Neue Zuercher Zeitung, a recent conference in Switzerland focused on those effects, highlighted by the recent news that authorities in Zermatt closed some climbing routes on the famed Matterhorn after a major rockfall incident. The mountain is again open for mountaineers, but concerns remain about the stability of the permafrost, which, according to the Neue Zuercher Zeitung &quotholds the mountain together.&quotSwiss scientists estimate that between 4 and 6 percent of Switzerland is covered by permafrost up to 22 percent of the country’s alpine areas above 2,500 meters.Researchers have been measuring temperatures in a borehole near St. Moritz since 1987, where they report the thermometer is rising by about 0.2 to 0.3 degrees per year. According to some researchers, the defrosting trend could lead to problems for the ski industry by making ski lift towers less stable.Heat wave in WyomingThe Jackson Hole News and Guide reports that temperatures in Jackson soared into the 90s for 11 straight days during July, setting a new record for heat waves in the area. In late July, the mercury climbed to 96 degrees in Jackson, setting a July record for that location. The all-time high temperature in Jackson is 98 degrees, set in August 1981, according to the News and Guide.As a result, the local Sears outlet sold out of air conditioners and National Park Service officials closed parts of three Yellowstone rivers to anglers to avoid unduly stressing the trout. Local anglers were not pleased by the flow regime, calling on authorities to consider recreational needs, &quotlike in Colorado.&quotThe heat and a lack of water downstream from Jackson Hole in Idaho also caused the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to increase releases from Jackson Lake Dam in Grand Teton National Park to 5,000 cubic feet per second late in July, the highest flow rate ever, according to BuRec officials. The releases are to meet contracts with downstream irrigators, according to the News and Guide.Telluride may lose federal transit fundsThe Telluride Daily Planet reports that the town is in danger of losing $825,000 in federal funding for the gondola that links the old town of Telluride with Mountain Village, the purpose-built resort on the flanks of the ski area.According to the Daily Planet, the town has received more than $1.5 million in federal funding through a pool designed to support public transportation. But that funding is intended for rubber tire service, which does not include gondolas.Town officials said they were &quotabruptly told the gondola didn’t qualify for these funds,&quot&quot according to the Daily Planet. At the same time, federal officials said they were reconsidering what types of public transit systems qualify for the funds. Town authorities spend more than $3 million annually to run the gondola, according to the Daily Planet.East West gets Tahoe propsThe Tahoe World reports that East West Partners is bringing a sustainable development ethic to its Tahoe operations.With a new director of environmental initiatives on board, the company recently built the Wild Goose restaurant in Tahoe Vista using some unusual materials, including recycled blue jeans for insulation; certified, non-old growth mahogany selectively harvested in Central America; and kitchen tiles made from recycled glass and ceramic.The restaurant was developed under guidelines outlined in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Along with using recycled materials for construction, the restaurant also purchased $6,000 worth of renewable energy credits to offset the its greenhouse gas emissions.


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