News Dec 12, 2011
Rethinking the ‘Timeless’ Colorado Plateau
Jason Neff. View Biography
By Kirk Johnson
To many of the hundreds of thousands of visitors who travel each year to the red rock country of the West and to national parks like Arches and Bryce Canyon, the landscape can feel timeless. The strange wind- and water-carved formations speak of ages past, presented to the modern tourist as a finished work, often cast quite literally in stone.
Yet in interviewing researchers in fields like climatology and geology for an article about the growing body of scientific study on dust in the Western skies, I found that one thing resonated over and over. The Colorado Plateau, the high arid region that stretches through parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado, is anything but static.
The scars of the recent past, including disruptions to fragile soils from cattle grazing and ranching, and the looming forces of what is expected to be a drier and even more arid future have combined to create a place in motion, with more dust up and swirling.
“You know the air quality has changed,” said Jason C. Neff, an associate professor of geology and environmental studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “But it’s an emerging problem in the West that we haven’t gotten a handle on yet.”
News Source: New York Times
ENVS Faculty: Jason Neff
ENVS News Category: Media Story
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