CU Boulder researchers report nearly 5-degree warming at Lake Dillon

A nearly four-decade water quality study led by a University of Colorado professor at Lake Dillon in Summit County has found that its surface temperature has warmed by almost 5 degrees Fahrenheit during that time.

Researchers at CU’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences Center for Limnology have just published a study, launched in 1981, which concluded that the lake’s rapid warming and its lack of ecological response to that warming are explained by its high elevation.

“I was not surprised that the lake was warming,” said William Lewis, who is director of the CIRES Center for Limnology and lead author on a paper just published in the American Geophysical Union’s Water Resources Research. “But I was surprised at the rate of warming for the lake, as large as it is.”

Lake Dillon is well known to those who travel Interstate 70 across the Continental Divide, located on the south side of the interstate west of the Eisenhower Tunnel, and bordered by Frisco, Silverthorne and Dillon, its surface measured at just over 3,200 acres.

In an interview Friday Lewis said the average mean temperature during open water season during the 35-year study increased from 52.7 degrees Fahrenheit to 57.2 degrees.

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