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Climate Connections: Questions From Colorado

8 minutes

(Describer) Titles: USGS – Science For a Changing World.

(Describer) Start With Science.

(Describer) USGS Climate Connections. On a sidewalk…

Welcome to USGS Climate Connections in Colorado. I'm your host, Jessica Robertson.

(Describer) Titles: From locations all across America. Your climate questions matter. She talks to a woman with two children. On the sidewalk…

In this episode, we're in Denver. Join us and see what questions people have about climate change.

(Describer) On a map, a line stretches from USGS on the east coast to Denver in the west. Titles: From locations all across America. Your climate questions matter. Climate Connections. Has answers. The sun shines down through a forest of thin, straight trees.

(Describer) Titles: From the world’s leading research scientists. Real answers on climate change.

(Describer) With footage of snow-capped mountains in the background, a skier joins others on a slope.

(Describer) Titles: USGS – Science for a changing world. Climate Connections, Question One. On a sidewalk…

Hi, my name is Random Temple. I'm from Denver, Colorado. What is it that has been affected specifically in Denver, Colorado or in neighboring areas? What can I do to be better informed, in general, about the subject of global warming?

(Describer) Research Physical Scientist Darius Semmens:

Great question, Random. Climate scientists predict that Colorado will, on average, become warmer and drier in association with climate change. This means our winter sports season will get slowly shorter and less frequently epic. The winter sports industry supports more than 37,000 jobs and contributes 2.2 billion dollars to the Colorado economy each year. This is just one example.

(Describer) People ride river rapids.

Less snow and warmer weather means less water available for river recreation, irrigated agriculture, and even just drinking and other daily uses.

(Describer) A dog laps up water.

Water availability has become an issue of increasing concern in Colorado and across the globe.

(Describer) Title: Start With Science.

To learn more about climate change in Colorado, there are a variety of information sources such as our USGS home page,, or those of other state and local government agencies. Universities also have a lot of information about climate change.

(Describer) Title: Climate Connections, Question Two. On a sidewalk…

I'm Lauren, and I'm wondering if the wildfires this summer were related to climate change.

(Describer) At a brick wall…

My name is Deborah Martin and I'm a research hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey. The 2012 fire season in Colorado was the most destructive on record, burning over 600 homes. Overall, it seems highly likely that warming temperatures have led to an increase in fire activity. But there are other factors too. For example, we have over 3,000 acres of dead trees caused by mountain pine beetle and other insects. Those trees are more susceptible to burning under certain conditions. Also, we have 95,000 homes in forested areas prone to burning. We have more ignitions in those zones. In summary, the combination of warmer temperatures, fuels, and ignitions have led to an increase in fire activity. Thank-you.

(Describer) Title: Climate Connections, Question Three. In a mall…

Hi, my name is Robert Olzack. I'm visiting from California. In Denver for the next week. Had a question regarding the bark beetle infestation that you're currently experiencing in Colorado, and that we've experienced recently in California. Just wanting to know if the bark beetles are related with the climate change or global warming or if it's not related with any of those things. Thank-you.

(Describer) In an office…

Hi, good question. I'm Jenny Briggs, research ecologist with USGS. This issue of bark beetles and their increasing impacts has been linked to different factors. Some are related to climate. I study mountain pine beetles here in Colorado's pine forest, so I'll use those species in my example. First, if we think about the trees, just like the suggestion that older people get flu shots, trees are also more susceptible to damage as they age. Right now most Western forests are dominated by trees a hundred or more years old, often growing in dense crowded stands that haven't been logged or thinned or burned for a while. Those trees, in those conditions, are really ripe for beetles to attack. Secondly, warmer and drier climate patterns decrease the tree's ability to produce the sap that helps them resist or fight back attacks by beetles. Finally, winter and fall temperatures often haven't been cold enough for long enough to kill off the beetle larvae as they grow inside the infested trees. So overall, the warmer, drier climate patterns have contributed to weakened trees and exploiting beetle populations. Thanks.

(Describer) Title: Climate Connections, Question Four. On a sidewalk…

Hi, my name is Brian. I was wondering how the ocean changes the climate and vice versa.

(Describer) In front of a white wall…

Hi, I'm Bob Stallard with the U.S. Geological Survey in Boulder. Yes, oceans do have a big role in controlling climate. Oceans have a tremendous capacity to absorb and release heat and moisture with the atmosphere. In this role, they absorb about 1/4 of the carbon dioxide that's being released into the atmosphere by human activities today. Land absorbs another quarter and about half remains in the atmosphere. Oceans also move heat around. The heat and moisture from the oceans drives weather, even well away from the ocean on land. Heat also drives big ocean storms such as hurricanes. So more heat, more and larger hurricanes will happen. If you cover the ocean with sea ice, you break the ocean-atmosphere connection, and you can change regional climate. In the Arctic, where sea ice is melting, the potential for changing regional climate is huge. Thank-you.

(Describer) The video of Stallard is moved aside and replaced with Robertson.

That's it for this episode. We hope you join us again for USGS Climate Connections.

(Describer) Titles: From locations all across America. Your climate questions matter. USGS – Science for a changing world. Against the background of a U.S. flag, title: Start With Science.

Funding to purchase and make this educational production

(Describer) On a map, a line stretches from USGS on the east coast to Denver in the west. Two people ski down a slope covered with snow.

accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education:

PH: 1-800-USA-LEARN (V) or WEB:

(Describer) In Denver, a long commuter train goes around a curve.

(Describer) Titles: USGS Climate Connections. Produced and Directed by Jessica Robertson and Ray Douglas. Funding to purchase and make this educational program accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Contact the Department of Education by telephone at 1-800-USA-LEARN, or online at

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Host Jessica Robertson gathers questions from individuals in downtown Denver, Colorado. They want to know how Colorado is affected by climate change. Scientists from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) provide the answers and information on how to learn more about climate change.

Media Details

Runtime: 8 minutes

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Climate Connections
Season 0 / Ep 1
8 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
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