December 2023 Newsletter

the power of PLACE

Ruby Range

Ruby Peak: A monument to inference and ways of knowing

Ruby Peak stands at a metaphorical point of triangulation on the map of how we know the world involving the West Elk Mountains, 19th century philosopher John Stuart Mill, and field science.

Edward Howard Ruffner was a minor surveyor who was overshadowed by the four great surveyors of the west, John Wesley Powell, Clarence King, George Wheeler, and Ferdinand Hayden. Funded by the Departments of Interior and War, these surveyors launched major campaigns to measure distance and angle from thousands of locations, using the law of cosines, to generate precise maps.

Ian Billick - Director RMBL

Ian Billick | PhD
Executive Director, RMBL


RMBL in the news

With about 70 media mentions in 2023, RMBL attracted a lot of attention. Any summary (and apologies for paywalls) of RMBL media coverage in 2023 has to start with the National Geographic piece on the Phenology Project. Beautiful photographs and great writing, it captures the extent to which the RMBL Phenology Project, started by Dr. David Inouye, has become a critical part of the global conversation around climate change. Following this theme, NPR’s Science Friday interviewed David and what he and his colleagues are seeing in terms of the timing of annual flowering being disrupted by climate change.

Jumping from wildflowers to water, the Colorado River provides water for 40 million people across seven states. Improving our ability to predict and manage water resources is one of the most critical issues for the western US. Gunnison Country Times writer Bella Biondini did a nice piece on research by Dr. Jessica Lundquist (University of Washington) for the High Country News, which was then picked up in outlets across the country such as Wired.  Her research focused on working out the details of Colorado’s water budget, with a particular emphasis on sublimation, or the loss of snow to evaporation.