Monday, January 1, 2018

Marmots have lost their blankets...

Happy New Year.

Over the holiday break we spent some time trying to ski in Colorado. There wasn't much snow. Like a scary lack of snow. Marmots, after all, rely on the snow to keep them warm and snug during their hibernation. 

Today, Jennie sent out an email to RMBL investigators which I'll extensively reprint:

Dear Scientists,
In case you hadn’t heard, it’s bone dry in Crested Butte so far this winter, with only one drier fall (1976) on record since 1974.  Remember how dry summer of 2012 was?  There were almost no flowers blooming that summer except Ipomopsis.  If the dry trend continues, it’ll be dry like 2012.  Here are some stats from billy barr’s website.
During winter of 1976-1977, we received 39” of snow Sept-Dec, 1976.  Total snowfall that winter was 186.6”.
During winter of 2011-2012, we received 75.2” of snow Sept-Dec, 2011. Total snowfall that winter was 252”.
During winter of 2017-2018, we received 39.7” of snow Sept-Dec, 2017.
On average, we received 83.8” of snow Sept-Dec since 1974.  Total annual average snowfall is 426.1”. 

In summary, it’s super dry out there, but there is a lot of winter to go. We normally expect that we’ve received about 20% of the winter’s snow by end of Dec.  There is time for things to turn around.  However, it’s warmer than it used to be.  We’re continuing to set records for ‘record high temps’. 

This means that when we do get snow, it’s melting.  

This is horrible news for our poor marmots. I predict that there will be another die off over this winter. We'll have to wait until April/May to see what really happens but at this point it's not looking too good.

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