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CLIMAS Fellow: Installations, Interviews, and Investment: my summer of gathering what’s possible for the Navajo Nation’s energy future

Thursday, October 20, 2016

In spring 2014, I left my job in Seattle and went on a road trip to tour coal country from Appalachia to Arizona. I was searching for answers to restless questions: how, in the face of climate change, would the US transition its entrenched fossil fuel infrastructure to renewables? How could that transition re-center culture, community, and a sustainable economy? Through a 6-week volunteer stint at Black Mesa Water Coalition (BMWC), I began to see the outlines of answers in BMWC’s work to develop community-based solar. I knew I wanted to stay connected to this important work and support it however I could.

Just a year later, I was back at Black Mesa Water Coalition as a student at the University of Arizona and a Climate and Society Graduate Fellow with CLIMAS (also funded by the Renewable Energy Network’s Future Energy Leaders Summer Fellowship program). This time, I was working together with the small but mighty nonprofit to write a report about challenges, opportunities, and recommendations to develop solar power on the Navajo Nation (read more).


 

CLIMAS Fellow: Conservation and Development on the Loess Plateau

Thursday, October 20, 2016

It takes ten years to grow trees but a hundred years to educate a person--Chinese Proverb


On the Loess Plateau

Agriculture has always been a crucial part of the Chinese identity and cultural heritage. At the heart of China, where agriculture began to flourish, is the Loess Plateau, which has taken millions of years to be blown in by the wind, and known as ‘cradle of Chinese civilization’. The Loess Plateau covers an area 2.5 times the size of UK, and is stripped away by the mighty Yellow River, a raging torrent which washes up to 1.6 billion tons of soil downstream every year (Williams 2010).

Researchers, practitioners, and policy makers in China and around the globe have been working on soil and water conservation on Loess Plateau since the dawn of 20th Century. From the eastern part of Loess Plateau, climate transitioned from semi-arid to arid to the inner west. Facing the encroaching desertification from the deserts to the northwest, and the massive urbanization projects within the region, rural farmers on the Loess Plateau are torn between conservation, mechanization, and economic development. (read more)

SWCO Aug 2016 - Monsoon Tracker

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Southwest saw the first strong burst of widespread monsoon activity near the end of June.  Most of the first half of July was characterized by a distinct break in monsoon activity, as atmospheric circulation patterns and lack of available moisture limited opportunities for widespread storms to develop, especially at lower elevations.  As July progressed, there were increasingly favorable conditions for storms to develop and spread, culminating in an extended period of widespread activity during late July and early August. Tropical Storm Javier helped jumpstart activity in mid-August, just as the previously mentioned extended run was winding down, and provided a brief extension to storm activity via a surge of moisture from the Gulf of California. The remainder of the monsoon window will be a waiting game to see if favorable moisture and atmospheric circulation patterns develop, as well as the potential influence of eastern Pacific tropical storm activity that could supplement storm activity and provide additional moisture to fuel storm activity. (read more)

 

SWCO Aug 2016 - La Niña Tracker

Friday, August 19, 2016

Oceanic and atmospheric indicators of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remain in the range of neutral conditions (Figs. 1-2). Seasonal forecasts and models identify the most likely scenario being a weak La Niña event forming sometime in late summer or fall 2016 and lasting through winter 2017. Some uncertainty exists regarding the specific timing of this event, as the equatorial sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies have not yet dropped into La Niña range and there is a lack of coordination between ocean and atmosphere (and in particular the lack of enhanced trade winds). (read more)

Southwest Climate Outlook August 2016 - Climate Summary

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Precipitation and Temperature: July precipitation totals were below average across most of Arizona and New Mexico in the past 30 days (Fig. 1a), due in part to an extended break in monsoon activity. July temperatures were above average across nearly the entire region (Fig. 1b), linked to global trends that saw record-warm temperatures in 2016 and to regional patterns of warmer and drier conditions that correspond to the aforementioned break in monsoon activity. August precipitation to date is average to above average for most of Arizona and portions of New Mexico (Fig. 2), partly linked to moisture associated with Tropical Storm Javier that resulted in heavy precipitation in parts of the Southwest. In August, temperatures have been mostly average to below average in Arizona and mostly above average in New Mexico (Fig. 3). (read more)

July 2016 SW Climate Outlook - Monsoon Tracker

Friday, July 22, 2016

The southwestern monsoon officially starts June 15 and ends September 30 – the dates the National Weather Service began using in 2008 to identify the window of typical activity for the region. The historical start date of monsoon activity (increased dew point, onset of precipitation events) varies across the region and is reflected in a generally westward migration over the season (Fig. 1). The monsoon ridge also shifts throughout the season, and the location of this ridge helps determine where storms and precipitation events will occur. (read more)

June 2016 SW Climate Outlook - ENSO Tracker

Friday, June 17, 2016

El Niño conditions continued their active decline (Figs. 1-2), and consensus is that they have reached ENSO-neutral status at the time of this writing. Forecast discussions focused on the decline of atmospheric and oceanic anomalies that characterize an El Niño event—convective activity, equatorial sea surface temperatures, and trade winds—and forecasters saw consistent evidence of a return to ENSO-neutral status across these indicators. Seasonal ENSO outlooks coalesced around La Niña conditions emerging by summer or fall 2016, with relatively high certainty that La Niña conditions would be in place sometime by mid-to-late 2016. (read more)

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