RMCO Reports

RMCO has written and released, often in partnership with other organizations, 25 reports detailing the effects of climate disruption on the West and across the country. Several of our most recent reports focus on future climate extremes — on how climate change is likely to lead to more extreme heat and extreme storms. Many other reports focus on climate change threats to national parks, which our reports were the first to call the greatest risks our national parks have ever faced — a conclusion which the National Park Service then went on to declare, too, citing our work.

News media coverage of our reports includes articles by 18 of the nation’s 25 largest newspapers, including front-page coverage in several.

Information on individual reports follows.

Climate Projections for Eagle County, Colorado, and Climate Projections for Summit County, Colorado, August 2021. Prepared by RMCO for the Eagle County, Summit County, Town of Frisco, and Town of Breckenridge local governments and the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (a consortium of local governments), these reports analyze in detail what climate models project for the future climate of specific locations in these two mountain counties.

Climate Change in the Headwaters: Water and Snow Impacts, February 2018. Prepared by RMCO for the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (a consortium of local governments), this report summarizes existing information on how climate change puts at risk water and snow resources and the many economic and social values that depend on them in six Colorado counties—Eagle, Grand, Gunnison, Pitkin, Routt, and Summit counties.

Future Extreme Heat in the Denver Metro Area. RMCO report, June 2017. Prepared for the City and County of Denver’s Department of Environmental Health, this report details how climate change may lead to many more hotter days, with much higher temperatures, depending of future levels of heat-trapping emissions. A separate companion report analyzed precipitation projections for the metro area from the climate models.

Future Climate Extremes in Boulder County and Future Climate Extremes in Larimer County. RMCO reports September 2016. These reports present detailed information on how the latest climate models indicate that future heat-trapping emissions could drive major increases in extreme heat and extreme storms in these populous counties in Colorado.

Projections of Climate Change Effects on Wildfire Risks in Colorado’s Northern Front Range. RMCO white paper, September 2016. A companion to the Boulder County and Larimer County climate extremes reports (see above), this white paper summarizes scientific projections on climate-change-driven increases in wildfires in this region.

The Report of the Colorado Local Resilience Project. An April 2015 report from 78 participants from 30 local governments, and others, convened by the Colorado Climate Network (then a program of RMCO) and the Colorado Municipal League, identifying actions needed to help Colorado communities become more resilient to climate-change-related risks. Many recommendations identify actions and resources that local governments need from the state and federal governments to enable effective preparedness actions at the local level. A summary of the report is here.

Extreme Storms in Michigan. A RMCO-Natural Resources Defense Council report, December 2014. The report documents how extreme storms — those of two inches or more of precipitation in a day — have become 89 percent more frequent per year over the past half century. In southern Michigan, where most of the state’s residents live, the increase has been a whopping 129 percent. What Michigan has a stake as extreme storms become more frequent is illustrated by two recent storms–an August 2014 storm that deluged Detroit with up to six inches of rainfall in eight hours, and widespread April 2013 storms of more than two inches of rainfall in a day, both causing flooding that prompted federal disaster designations.

Rocky Mountain Forests at Risk. A Union of Concerned Scientists-RMCO report, September 2014. The report summarizes how climate change is affecting Rocky Mountain forests, and what those effects may be in the future. An unprecedented combination of tree-killing insects, wildfire, and heat and dryness is already severely affecting key trees of the Rocky Mountains across six states.

Extreme Heat in Fort Collins. A RMCO report for the City of Fort Collins, January 2014. The report documents increases in hot days and heat waves in Fort Collins since 1961. Annual rates of both single days 95 degrees or hotter and three straight days of 90 degrees or hotter have tripled so far this century, compared to 1961-1999 rates. New climate projections show large increases in these frequencies in the future, especially if emissions continue at a relatively high rate. With medium-high future emissions, for example, 95-degree days could occur six times as often as the historic rate by mid-century, and 13 times as often by the end of the century.

Atlantic National Seashores in Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption. A RMCO-Natural Resources Defense Council report, August 2012. The report is on the effects of climate change on the seven national seashores on the U.S. Atlantic Coast: Cape Cod (in Massachusetts), Fire Island (New York), Assateague Island (Maryland and Virginia), Cape Hatteras (North Carolina), Cape Lookout (North Carolina), Cumberland Island (Georgia), and Canaveral (Florida) national seashores. The report includes new maps showing that for five of them, most seashore lands are less than 3.3 feet above the current sea level, and so are at risk of being submerged by a higher sea and before then of having roads and other infrastructure destroyed, lands eroded, and barrier islands broken into pieces by stronger coastal storms and rising waters.

Doubled Trouble: More Midwestern Extreme Storms. A RMCO-Natural Resources Defense Council report, May 2012. The report documents how much heavy precipitation has increased in the Midwest and sheds new light on the devastating and costly floods that have hammered the region, especially in recent years. New RMCO analysis of a half century of precipitation data across the Midwest, defined as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin, indicates the region has had an increasing number of large storms since 1961. The largest of storms—those of three inches or more of precipitation in a single day—have increased the most, with their annual frequency more than doubling over the past 51 years.

Greater Yellowstone in Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption. A RMCO-Greater Yellowstone Coalition report, September 2011. The report highlights the particular threats that a changed climate poses to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem—Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, parts of six national forests, and more. New climate projections obtained for the report indicate that, under a medium-high emissions rate of heat-trapping gases, summers in Yellowstone NP on average could become slightly hotter than recent summers in Culver City in the Los Angeles area.

Great Lakes National Parks in Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption. A RMCO-Natural Resources Defense Council report, July 2011. The report documents the vulnerabilities to human-caused climate change of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana; Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Isle Royale National Park, Michigan; and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin. New climate projections done for the report show that summers in Indiana Dunes could become as hot as those of Gainesville, Florida, have been, if future emissions of heat-trapping pollution are at medium-high levels.

Acadia National Park in Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption. A RMCO-Natural Resources Defense Council report, November 2010. The report details how a climate altered by human activities may affect the first national park east of the Mississippi River. New climate projections done for the report show that before the end of the century Acadia could become as hot as Atlantic City, New Jersey, historically has been.

California’s National Parks in Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption. A RMCO-Natural Resources Defense Council report, October 2010.The report details how climate disruption could affect ten national parks in California. If we do not limit emissions of heat-trapping gases, before the end of the century Yosemite National Park would become hotter than Sacramento historically has been. Temperature increases of this magnitude would have far-reaching impacts on Yosemite, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, and Redwood national parks, and more of California’s most special places.

Virginia Special Places in Peril: Jamestown, Chincoteague, and Shenandoah Threatened by Climate Disruption. A RMCO-Natural Resources Defense Council report, September 2010. The report details how Jamestown, the site of the first permanent European settlement in what became the American colonies and the United States, may be lost to rising waters of the James River, pushed higher by rising seas and tidal waters. Likely climate-change Impacts to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Shenandoah National Park are documented, too.

Special Places at Risk in the Gulf: Impacts of the BP Oil Catastrophe. May 2010. See the next page.

Glacier National Park in Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption. A RMCO-NRDC report, April 2010, documenting how an altered climate puts at risk both Glacier National Park’s spectacular resources and the tourism — a mainstay of Montana’s economy — attracted by the park’s scenery, wildlife, and other resources. National Parks in Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption. A RMCO-Natural Resources Defense Council report, October 2009. This report identifies 25 national parks across the country most threatened by a changing climate and documents 11 different types of risks to our parks that are already underway or could result from emissions of heat-trapping pollution. The report also includes 32 recommendations for actions specific to our national parks to address climate change and its impacts.

National Parks In Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption. A RMCO-NRDC report, October 2009, documenting that climate disruption is the greatest threat ever to America’s national parks and identifying 25 parks most at risk. It also recommends actions to protect their parks and their resources and also to reduce the emissions that put them at risk. The first comprehensive compilation of climate-change risks to our national parks, this report was cited by the National Park Service’s director when he made the agency’s first official declaration that climate change poses the greatest risk ever to the park system.

Hotter and Drier: The West’s Changed Climate. A RMCO-Natural Resources Defense Council report, March 2008. This report documented that the West has gotten hotter at a faster rate than the planet as a whole. Across the 11 states of the American West, temperatures in 2003-2007 were 1.7°F higher than the 20th-century average for the region. By contrast, global temperatures in that five-year period were 1.0°F hotter than the planet’s 20th-century average. The report also presents similar data for each of the 11 western states, and documents other ways in which the West’s climate is already changing and the impacts of those changes. See also a summary of that report, the news release announcing it, a copy of key figures from the report, and a PowerPoint slide of those figures. The figures and slide may be used freely, so long as credit is given.

Losing Ground: Western National Parks Endangered by Climate Disruption. A RMCO-Natural Resources Defense Council report, July 2006. This report identifies 12 national parks in the western states most vulnerable to a changing climate. In this report, RMCO and NRDC were the first to call climate change the greatest threat ever to America’s national parks — a conclusion later officially adopted by the National Park Service (see here).

Less Snow, Less Water: Climate Disruption in the West. A RMCO-Clear the Air report, September 2005. This report, our first, pulls together evidence of how an altered climate may affect the arid and semi-arid West’s scarce snow and water resources. The report includes a new analysis of declines in snowpacks in the Colorado, Columbia, Missouri, and Rio Grande river basins.