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Mini-Podcast/News - Southwest Climate Update - May 1, 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015

Podcast introduction: We're introducing a new podcast series (CLIMAS SW Climate Update) that focuses on quick and timely reporting on important climate news and information. We will emphasize stories that relate to the southwest, but we'll also include other climate related news that illustrate the impact of climate on national or global scales.  And Mike, Zack, and Ben will still take a deeper look at southwestern climate issues in the monthly CLIMAS Southwest Climate Podcast. This episode, we're focused on record warm temperatures, drought, and snowpack across the west, along with a few stories that illustrate the downstream impact of these conditions.

CLIMAS Colloquium: Connie Woodhouse - Collaborative Research in the Upper Colorado River Basin: User-Driven Research Results and Challenges

Thursday, March 26, 2015

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)

2015 CLIMAS Climate & Society Graduate Fellows

Friday, March 13, 2015

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:

Chris Guiterman - 2014 CLIMAS Climate & Society Graduate Fellow

Thursday, March 12, 2015

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)

Rebecca Lybrand - 2014 CLIMAS Climate & Society Graduate Fellow

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

To Rebecca Lybrand, calling soil “dirt” is simplistic and diminishes its importance to plants, animals, and human beings.  So why is soil, the foundation of life, constantly being referred to as “dirt?”  Rebecca began this line of thinking in college, and this spark of curiosity turned a simple question into a career. 

Rebecca is now a soil scientist at The University of Arizona.  She received her Ph.D. from The University of Arizona’s Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science (SWES) in 2014. She is also a recipient of the 2014 Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) Climate & Society Graduate Fellowship. 

Rebecca’s CLIMAS project centered on creating two short films that documented her research across the Santa Catalina Mountains in Arizona. These films showcase four of her field sites, which span over 4000 feet of elevation gain. The sites differ in temperature, precipitation, and vegetation, all of which have remarkable impacts on the characteristics of these soils. 

The visuals for both films are the same, but the scripts change to present the science message in two different contexts. One uses a lively, first person perspective that relays a scientific story, using Rebecca’s personal experience to frame the film.  The other is in third person, and presents a formal video delivering a more scientific message along the lines of what you might see in a science documentary. The main objective of this project is to survey students and to evaluate the effectiveness of formal and informal communication techniques. (read more)

Ling-Yee Huang - 2014 CLIMAS Climate & Society Graduate Fellow

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

When Ling-Yee Huang received the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) Climate & Society Graduate Fellowship a year ago, she proposed to create a climate science curriculum for law schools.  Little did she know, she would actually be teaching her own class on climate science curriculum for lawyers, at the James A. College of Law at The University of Arizona.

Huang is currently a M.S. student in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment (SNRE) at the University of Arizona, as well as a researcher at the Water Resources Research Center (WRRC).  Previously, she earned a J.D. from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Rice University.

Before coming to UA, Huang worked as a policy analyst for the Center for Progressive Reform in Washington, D.C.  She provided legal analysis regarding the Clean Water Act and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, and she developed legal frameworks for climate change adaptation and protecting ecosystem services.

“I have always really liked the idea of combining science and decision making,” said Huang.  “I started grad school having worked in the decision and policy making field for a couple of years and in that experience I felt that there was a real lack of understanding of science.”

Huang said when she learned about the CLIMAS fellowship, she realized it captured her dual interests in both science and policy perfectly. The curriculum and her final project were ideas she had been contemplating for a long time. 

“I found it the perfect fit,” said Huang. (read more)

Sarah Truebe - 2014 CLIMAS Climate & Society Graduate Fellow

Monday, March 9, 2015

Sarah Truebe has always been a caver.  She grew up thinking the only things people should take from caves are photographs, but as she began her career as a paleoclimate scientist, she realized that scientists often take a lot more than photographs.

A stalagmite is a cylindrical mineral deposit, formed over hundreds or thousands of years on the floor of a cave, making them utterly non-renewable on human timescales.  Stalagmites contain valuable paleoclimate data; however, most of the time getting this information means permanently removing the stalagmite from the cave. 

“As the popularity of stalagmite paleoclimate science grows, development of sustainable sampling methods for these nonrenewable resources is necessary to balance the needs of science and cave conservation,” Truebe said. 

Truebe is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arizona and is also a 2014 recipient of the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) Climate & Society Graduate Fellows Program. She used this opportunity to collect information on different stalagmite sampling methods, with the intention of developing best practice recommendations for extraction. (read more)

2014 CLIMAS Climate & Society Graduate Fellows

Monday, March 9, 2015

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. (read more)

Climate Summary - Southwest Climate Outlook February 2015

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Originally published in the Feb 2015 Southwest Climate Outlook

Precipitation: The borderlands region of southern Arizona and portions of southern, central, and northeastern New Mexico all recorded above-average precipitation, but most of Arizona and New Mexico received average or below-average precipitation in the past 30 days despite a number of January storms (Fig. 1).

Temperature: After a record year for Arizona (and a top five year for New Mexico), temperatures remained well above average in the Southwest over the past 30 days (Fig. 2). This means pleasant weather compared to the frigid and snowy conditions in the eastern and central U.S. but has implications for drought, water storage, phenology, and human health.

(read more)

2015 CLIMAS Climate & Society Graduate Fellows

Thursday, February 12, 2015

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. (read more)

Upcoming: CLIMAS Climate & Society Fellows Event - Nov 14, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

After a year of research, The Climate Assessment for the Southwest’s first Climate and Society Fellows will present the results of their work on Friday, November 14, from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., in room 531 of the Marshall Building.

The Climate & Society Graduate Fellows Program supports currently enrolled University of Arizona graduate students.  The fellows are given $5,000 and a year to work on a specific project of their choice.  While their work must be focused around climate research and decision making, they can come from any degree-granting program.  (read more)

Arizona Facing High Fire Danger a Year After Yarnell

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

It was one year ago that lightning struck and ignited the Yarnell Hill Fire, a devastating wildfire that resulted in the deaths of 19 firefighters who were members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. This year, a combination of drought conditions, high winds and high temperatures all call for an intense fire season. Predictions indicate above-normal fire potential, and indicators suggest the onset of the monsoon season will be delayed.

Since October, we've had very low precipitation – averaging less than half of average across large portions of the state – accompanied by low snowpack and temperatures that have been well above average.

The combination of these factors, along with bursts of dry winds that are typical for the spring, gives us conditions of above-normal fire potential, which is what the Southwest Coordination Center, the main fire prediction center for our region, predicted beginning in late January.  (read more)

Farm and Ranch Weather and Climate Workshop

Thursday, June 5, 2014

University of Arizona Cooperative Extension and the National Weather Service – Tucson Forecast office are sponsoring a morning long training workshop on weather and climate information focused on supporting agricultural and resource management decision- making.  (read more)

Video: UA experts discuss Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

CLIMAS and the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions (CCASS) co-sponsored a panel of UA experts to discuss the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) entitled "Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability." This report, from the IPCC's Working Group II (WGII), provides an assessment of the scientific, technical, environmental, economic and social aspects of climate change vulnerability for and impact on ecological systems, socio-economic sectors and human health, with an emphasis on regional, sectoral and cross-sectoral issues. (embedded video)

UA experts discuss the IPCC WGII Report: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

Monday, March 31, 2014

CLIMAS and the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions are co-sponsoring a panel of UA experts to discuss the forthcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) entitled "Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability." This report, from the IPCC's Working Group II (WGII), provides an assessment of the scientific, technical, environmental, economic and social aspects of climate change vulnerability for and impact on ecological systems, socio-economic sectors and human health, with an emphasis on regional, sectoral and cross-sectoral issues. (read more)

A video recording of this IPCC panel discussion is now available on the CLIMAS media page.

Climate & Health Workshop

Friday, February 14, 2014

This workshop is open to UA researchers engaged in research around climate and health. The workshop will aim to stimulate research on the climate and health nexus, to learn about research in this area occurring on our campus, and especially, to see if substantial interest exists in pursuing collaborative grants. (read more)

Roundtable Discussion with Professor Hari Osofsky

Friday, February 7, 2014

Professor Hari Osofsky, visiting from the University of Minnesota Law School, will give a brief presentation about her work on the dynamics of local networks in climate change policy. Her talk will be followed by a moderated discussion about climate change governance at the regional level.  (read more)

CLIMAS Colloquium: Megadrought Risk - From the Globe Down to the Southwest

Friday, January 24, 2014

CLIMAS Colloquium Series - Speaker: Jonathan OverpeckIncreased drought risk is (and will be) arguably one of the most certain and troubling aspects of anthropogenic climate change for many parts of the world. At the same time, it is emerging in the scientific literature that state-of-the-art climate and Earth system models are not able to simulate the full range of drought, whether decade-scale droughts like seen recently in both the SW US, and Australia, or multidecadal “megadroughts” that eclipse droughts of the instrumental era in both duration and severity. Evidence for this assertion will be examined, particularly as it comes from the paleoclimatic record of several continents, in both semi-arid and wetter regions. The implications for decision-making will also be discussed, including the on-going operational use, in the United States, of no-regrets drought planning strategies that incorporate paleoclimatic data. Fortunately, because droughts will still occur for natural reasons as well as anthropogenic, increased drought preparedness is a clear “no-regrets” climate change adaptation strategy. (read more)

Regional Climate Summit for Municipal Leaders: Economic, Health, Water & Transportation Impacts

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Decision makers in southern Arizona face new challenges as climate variability and weather extremes increasingly affect the region. Our municipalities undertake planning activities and public investments that shape our economic prosperity, public health, and environment. Extreme events, warmer temperatures, and changes in precipitation will dramatically impact these efforts.   This half-day summit will explore the risks, potential costs, and proactive solutions necessary to combat and cope with climate change challenges affecting southern Arizona. Participants will learn from other municipal leaders and technical experts. The summit begins a dynamic regional dialogue to leverage ongoing and future efforts in cross-jurisdictional climate-related challenges. (read more)

Advancing Climate Adaptation and Resliency Planning in Flagstaff

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Flagstaff City Manager’s office in collaboration with CLIMAS at the University of Arizona and the Decision Center for a Desert City at Arizona State University will lead a workshop with the Police Department and the Streets section of the Public Works Department to develop performance measure for climate adaptation that these departments can use in future budget preparations and strategic planning.  The workshop will build on Flagstaff’s Resiliency and Preparedness Study (RPS) and the policies adopted by the Flagstaff City Council. (read more)

Recent Variations in Low-Temperature and Moisture Constraints on Vegetation in the Southwestern U.S.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Dr. Jeremy Weiss, a senior researcher with UA’s Environmental Studies Laboratory, will discuss the importance of seasonality and elevational gradients for understanding the effects of drought and warming on vegetation in topographically complex regions like the Southwest, and explain how projected changes in future regional climate may potentially further or alter these effects. (read more)

Field of Dreams, or Dream Team? Assessing Two Models for Drought Impact Reporting in the Semiarid Southwest

Friday, March 22, 2013

To make decisions about drought declarations, status, and relief funds, decision makers need high quality local-level drought impact data. In response to this need in Arizona, the Arizona DroughtWatch program was created, which includes an online drought impacts reporting system. Despite extensive and intensive collaboration and consultation with the intended public participants, Arizona DroughtWatch has had few consistent users and has failed to live up to its goal of providing decision makers or the public with high quality drought impacts data. (read more)

Drought Impacts on Dust and Health in New Mexico

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dust storms create both health issues and transportation hazards. Valley Fever is endemic to the border region and gets carried with the dust. Interstates and local highways are often closed for hours in an attempt to avoid accidents and injuries. Windblown dust concentrations can be very high when strong winds occur during extended droughts - creating “exceptional episodes” of poor air quality. Air quality in rural areas of New Mexico and along the US/Mexico border is normally acceptable and well below the US EPA’s air quality standards for particulate matter. But these episodes expose millions of people to particulate levels that exceed air quality standards. (read more)

Key Findings from the Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest

Friday, February 8, 2013

Gregg Garfin, lead-coordinating author of this report, will present these and other key findings on Friday, Jan. 25th at 10:30 am in Marshall 531. The report drew on contributions from 121 authors and will be published in early 2013. You can currently access the first chapter of the report, known as the Summary for Decision Makers. The full report will be available here.

The Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States is one of eight regional technical contributions to the National Climate Assessment, which will summarize key findings from each region and will help inform informs the nation about observed changes and anticipated climate trends.  The National Climate Assessment report will be published later this year. (read more)

National Climate Assessment Regional Town Hall

Friday, January 18, 2013

This day-long town hall meeting will bring together approximately 90 people, including climate experts and users of climate information from academia, local, state, tribal, and federal governments, non-profit organizations, businesses, and industry. This event is by invitation only. (read more)