The Colorado River Delta hadn’t seen regularly flowing water in 50 years. But one year ago the U.S. and Mexico came together to work on a project to move water down the empty riverbed.
On March 23, 2014 these countries released more than 100,000 acre-feet of water into the delta below the Morelos Dam. This area is along the Colorado River on the U.S.-Mexico border.
On May 15, 2014, the river finally met the sea. (read more)
This was originally published in the April 2015 Southwest Climate Outlook
Strong signals in early 2014 stalled, delaying El Niño’s onset until last month, when ocean-atmosphere coupling and an additional Kelvin wave indicated more favorable conditions. Despite this late start, El Niño continued for a second consecutive month. Recent increases in sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (Fig.1 - 2) and ongoing convective activity associated with El Niño-favorable conditions indicate we might be witnessing a two-year El Niño event. These forecasts rely on projections during a time of increasing uncertainty, and the so-called “spring predictability barrier” continues to make it difficult to anticipate how seasonal changes will help or hinder El Niño. (read more)
Precipitation: In the past 30 days, most of the southwestern U.S. received below-average precipitation (Fig. 1). The winter wet season is wrapping up, and instead of above-average precipitation (as many of the El Niño influenced seasonal forecasts suggested), water year observations since October 1 show below-average precipitation across much of Arizona and portions of New Mexico. The situation is direr in other western regions, with California, the Pacific Northwest, and the Intermountain West recording significantly below-average winter precipitation (Fig. 2). (read more)
A version of this post was also published in the April 2015 Southwest Climate Outlook
Flowers are blooming and trees have sprouted green leaves, signs that spring is in full swing across the Southwest and that, despite a verdant desert, wildfire season is upon us. The outlook for this wildfire season forecasts near-average wildfire activity for much of Arizona and New Mexico.
This presentation will focus on ongoing work to better understand the effects of temperature on water supplies in the upper Colorado River basin. Overall, spring and early summer temperatures explain only a small portion of the variance in water year streamflow in the basin. However, in a subset of years (both warm and cool), temperatures appear to have a stronger influence on streamflow than might be anticipated, given the precipitation. The presentation will also touch on the challenges associated with incorporating the input of water resource management partners, a central component of the project design. (read more)
After months of vacillating sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies, limited coordination between oceanic and atmospheric conditions favorable to El Niño formation, and ongoing confusion regarding the strength of the various diagnostic signals, El Niño has “officially” arrived in North America. (read more)
The Climate & Society Graduate Fellows Program supports University of Arizona graduate students whose work connects climate research and decision making. Fellows receive $5,000 and guidance from members of the CLIMAS research team (Climate Assessment for the Southwest) for one year. The program’s main objective is to train a group of students to cross the traditional boundaries of academic research into use-inspired science and applied research. While CLIMAS research generally occurs in the Southwest U.S., the Fellows program allows students to work anywhere in the world.
Fellows’ projects may follow two tracks. Students who want to conduct collaborative research may use their funding for use-inspired projects. Students who have conducted climate research and want to communicate their findings to audiences outside of academia may use their funding for outreach. Fellows may also use their funding for a combination of the two tracks.
The Climate & Society Graduate Fellows Program helps students address the world’s climate-related problems by funding projects that engage people outside of the university.
The 2015 Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) Climate & Society Graduate Fellows are:
From the very beginning, Chris Guiterman just wanted an opportunity to expand his collaboration with the Navajo Forestry Department, and to demonstrate what he could do to help them.
Guiterman is a 2014 recipient of the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) Climate & Society Graduate Fellows Program. He is currently a PhD student at the University of Arizona, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, working in the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.
He used the CLIMAS fellowship to jumpstart a project that he had been struggling to fund.
Tribal nations across the Southwest are increasingly at risk of climate change impacts on the landscape, and because many of these nations rely on the ecosystem services of healthy forests, the risks are intensified.
“Tasked with managing over 5 million acres of forests and woodlands, the Navajo Forestry Department has identified the need to assess sensitivities of their forests to drought and climate change,” according to the abstract of Guiterman’s research project. Guiterman worked with the NFD foresters to address their needs by quantifying the climatic drivers of forest growth in the Chuska Mountains. (read more)