Boulder County and other Colorado communities are already experiencing the impacts of a warming climate in the form of reduced snowpack, earlier snowmelt, increased risk of high intensity wildfires, extreme weather events, and an increased number of “high heat” days. In addition to these environmental impacts, the change in local climate can also have negative effects on the health of our residents.
Climate Change in Boulder County
Environmental Effects of Climate Change
- More heat: hotter summers and warmer winters, leading to more rain and less snow
- Increased frequency and intensity of flooding
- Longer periods of drought
- More wildfires: burning twice as many acres each year as compared to before 1980
- Widespread beetle infestations
- Water shortages: Colorado’s precipitation has decreased 20% in the last century, and water supplies are already stretched thin. Less snow, melting earlier, could leave Boulder County with less water during hotter summers.
- Economic impacts: tens of millions in road damage from increased heat; increased water flow resulting in millions in bridge damage
Health Effects of Climate Change
- Poor air quality from wildfires and high ozone days leads to more cardiovascular, respiratory, and allergy-related illness.
- Natural disasters lead to increased exposure, physical injury, and even death:
- High heat days lead to dehydration, heat stroke, and aggravated cardiovascular and respiratory illness.
- Children, the elderly, and Boulder County residents living in poverty are more vulnerable to heat-related illness.
- In the Denver area, the annual frequency of 100 degree days has increase by more than 250% on average since 1967-1999.
- Changing ecosystems can spread severe illness.