Twentieth Century Temperature Trends in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains
Imtiaz Rangwala and James R. Miller
We examine trends in surface air temperature for the San Juan Mountain region in southwestern Colorado from 1895 to 2005. Observations from both National Weather Service (NWS) and Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) sites are analyzed. Results show a net warming of 1 °C between 1895 and 2005. Most of this warming occurred between 1990 and 2005, when the region experienced rapid and secular increases in temperature. Between 1950 and 1985, there was a cooling trend in the region during which there were significant decreases in the maximum temperature (Tmax) and almost no trend in the minimum temperature (Tmin). This cooling trend appears to be, in part, associated with increases in atmospheric aerosols. Between 1990 and 2005, the large increases in temperature anomalies are strongly correlated at the NWS and SNOTEL sites. Annual increases in Tmax and Tmin are similar between 1990 and 2005; however, they generally show greater increases during summer and winter, respectively. Spatially, there are similar increases in Tmax and Tmin except in the central mountain region, where the increases in Tmin are larger and started earlier.