Climate Change

2018 Updated Colorado Climate Plan

2018 Climate Plan Cover

Governor John Hickenlooper released an updated edition of the Colorado Climate Plan, a statewide set of policy recommendations and actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and to increase Colorado’s level of preparedness. The revised Plan reflects advances in the discussion on how best to address climate change at the state level as well as progress since the release of the initial plan in 2014; and wraps in the objectives contained in Gov. Hickenlooper’s executive order of July 2017 that committed the state to additional climate action.

Public comments on the plan we collected last fall and have been addressed and incorporate where appropriate. A summary of how those comments were addressed can be found below.

2017 Annual Report to the State Legislature regarding climate change issues, efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions, and prepare the state for climate change effects.

2014 Climate Change in Colorado Report

The scientific evidence is clear – the Earth’s climate is warming. Multiple independent measurements confirm widespread warming in the western United States. In Colorado, temperatures increased by approximately 2°F between 1977 and 2006. These increasing temperatures affect the state’s water resources.

Climate Change in Colorado Report

This report is a synthesis of climate science relevant for management and planning for Colorado’s water resources. It focuses on observed climate trends, climate modeling, and projections of temperature, precipitation, snowpack, and streamflow. The report utilizes a mid-21st century time frame that can be used in the development of adaptation strategies by the State of Colorado and other water entities. Climate Projections and Colorado’s Water Resources
  • Current climate models project that Colorado will warm by 2.5°F by 2025 and 4°F by 2050. Summers are likely to warm more than winters.
  • Warmer temperatures will affect evaporation rates in our rivers, streams and reservoirs, perhaps making less water available for beneficial use.
  • A projected seasonal shift in precipitation may result in more mid-winter precipitation throughout the state and, in some areas, a decrease in late spring and summer precipitation.
  • Lower elevation snowpack (below 8200 ft.) is likely to decline, with modest declines projected for high elevation snowpack (above 8200 ft.).
  • The timing of runoff is projected to shift earlier in the spring, which may reduce late summer stream flows. These changes will probably occur regardless of changes in precipitation.

How does the CWCB address climate change?
Although Colorado has developed methods to manage water resources in the past, these future climate changes may pose new challenges for water managers. The CWCB helps water managers by supporting planning efforts on a local, regional and statewide basis. CWCB's efforts include:
  • Colorado Climate Change Vulnerability Study: Western Water Assessment, in collaboration with Colorado State University, conducted a broad study of climate vulnerability for the state of Colorado with assistance and guidance from CWCB. Drawing from existing data and peer-reviewed research, the study summarizes the key challenges facing seven sectors: ecosystems, water, agriculture, energy, transportation, outdoor recreation and tourism, and public health. It also details current adaptive capacity and potential strategies in those sectors to meet future climate challenges.
  • The Colorado Climate Preparedness Project: The project provides a catalog of climate impacts and adaptation activities and options in five climate sensitive sectors in the state: water, wildlife, ecosystems and forests, electricity, agriculture and outdoor recreation. An associated online database is also available.
  • The Colorado River Water Availability Study: The study aims to find out how much water from the Colorado River Basin System is available to meet Colorado’s current and future water needs.
  • The Joint Front Range Climate Change Vulnerability Study: The study provided the education, tools and methodology necessary to examine the possible effects of climate change on several common watersheds.
  • Drought Planning: The CWCB encourages and assists communities in preparing and implementing drought mitigation plans, monitors drought impacts and educates water providers about drought planning.
  • The Colorado Drought Mitigation and Response Plan: The plan provides a road map to assist the state with reducing the impact of water shortages over the short and long-term. The plan includes a mechanism for drought monitoring, impact assessment, response to emergency drought problems and mitigation of long-term drought impacts.
  • The Colorado Climate Action Plan: The plan sets specific, achievable goals for Coloradans to help address global warming.