The northern arm of the Rocky Mountains is sometimes called "the crown of the continent," and its jewels are glaciers and snowfields that irrigate large parts of North America during spring thaw.
But the region is getting warmer, even faster than the rest of the world. Scientists now say warming is scrambling the complex relationship between water and nature and could threaten some species with extinction as well as bring hardship to ranchers and farmers already suffering from prolonged drought.
On a windy August day outside of Fort Collins, three Colorado State University students crouch in a field, harvesting a crop by hand. The plants in the field, which are browning slower than usual during a wet, cool summer, are a light tan color and about knee high.
The crop is called camelina, and the researchers believe these plants, which produce tiny, oil-filled seeds, could provide farmers with the ability to grow their own fuel on the farm.
Behind the scenes at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, there's a vast, warehouse-like room that's filled with metal cabinets painted a drab institutional green. Inside the cabinets are more than a half-million birds — and these birds are not drab. Their colorful feathers make them seem to almost glow.