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Nov 2016 La Niña Tracker

Thursday, December 22, 2016

From the November issue of the CLIMAS Southwest Climate Outlook

Oceanic and atmospheric indicators of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) continue to indicate the likelihood of a weak La Niña event this winter (Figs. 1-2), although the chance of an ENSO-neutral winter cannot be ruled out. Any hedging in the forecasts and outlooks likely stems from uncertainty as to whether the event will maintain even weak La Niña strength through winter 2017 (December–February). Fluctuations in forecasts and models are likely due to the limited coordination between oceanic and atmospheric conditions described in previous outlooks, as well as generally borderline conditions (i.e., between weak La Niña and ENSO-neutral).

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Nov 2016 CLIMAS Southwest Climate Outlook - Climate Summary

Friday, November 18, 2016

From the November issue of the CLIMAS Southwest Climate Outlook

Precipitation & Temperature: October precipitation totals were below average across most of the climate divisions in Arizona and New Mexico, except for parts of western Arizona and central New Mexico (Fig. 1a). October temperatures were much above average across all of the two states, with record-warm observations in southern and eastern New Mexico (Fig. 1b). November precipitation to date has been buoyed by storm events that pushed in as part of a cutoff low. This rainfall may boost the percent of average precipitation calculations to impressive numbers, but the actual amount of rain that has fallen has been relatively meager (Fig. 2). In terms of regional climate, November tends to be one of the drier months. November temperatures have continued the trend observed in October (“Hot-tober”), ranging from 2 to 8 degrees F above normal across most of Arizona and New Mexico, a pattern that extends across the Intermountain West (Fig. 3).

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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)

Oct 2016 - Southwest Monsoon Recap

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

From the October issue of the CLIMAS Southwest Climate Outlook

The Southwest saw the first strong burst of widespread monsoon activity near the end of June, followed by a break in monsoon activity over the first half of July as atmospheric circulation patterns and lack of available moisture limited opportunities for widespread storms to develop, especially at lower elevations.  By mid-to-late July, increasingly favorable conditions helped storms to form and spread, culminating in an extended period of widespread activity during late July and early August. Tropical Storm Javier helped jumpstart activity again in mid-August, providing a brief extension to storm activity via a surge of moisture from the Gulf of California. The remainder of August and September saw a decline in widespread monsoon activity, even while numerous areas did receive intermittent precipitation, particularly at higher elevations. On September 7, Hurricane Newton generated significant precipitation in a swath across southwestern Arizona and into central New Mexico. Finally, portions of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico saw a run of storms linked to a cutoff low in late September.

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Oct 2016 La Niña Tracker

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

From the October issue of the CLIMAS Southwest Climate Outlook

In the last month, oceanic and atmospheric indicators of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) have pushed forecasts back towards an increased likelihood of a La Niña event this winter (Figs. 1-2). Models are indicating an increased possibility of these conditions sustaining through winter 2017, leading to greater certainty regarding the formation of a weak La Niña event in late 2016 or early 2017. However, the chance of an ENSO-neutral winter cannot be entirely ruled out. Fluctuations in forecasts and models are likely due to the limited coordination between oceanic and atmospheric conditions described in previous outlooks, as well as generally borderline conditions between weak La Niña and ENSO-neutral.

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Oct 2016 Southwest Climate Outlook - Climate Summary

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

From the October issue of the CLIMAS Southwest Climate Outlook

Precipitation and Temperature: September precipitation totals were near average across most of the climate divisions in Arizona and New Mexico (Fig. 1a), with one notable departure being the swath of above-average precipitation in the borderlands region linked to Tropical Storm Newton. September temperatures were average to below average in Arizona and average to above average in New Mexico (Fig. 1b). October precipitation to date has been below average across most of the region (Fig. 2), although October is one of the drier months in the Southwest, so dry conditions are not unexpected, and a single tropical storm or fall storm can skew the percent of normal. October temperatures have been 2 to 6 degrees above average for most of New Mexico and 0 to 4 degrees above average for most of Arizona (Fig. 3). This is in part connected to global trends that are likely to see 2016 as the warmest year on record (breaking the record set in 2015).

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Sept 2016 Monsoon Tracker

Friday, September 16, 2016

Climate Summary from the September issue of the CLIMAS Southwest Climate Outlook

The southwestern monsoon is characterized by spatial and temporal variability. Storm events are interspersed with breaks of limited activity as migrating high pressure systems and available moisture dictates where in the Southwest rain might fall. This results in highly variable precipitation totals on a daily or weekly timescale. Regional climatology gives some indication as to the expected cumulative total precipitation any location might expect but says less about how those precipitation totals will be achieved. Any given year of monsoon activity is difficult to categorize on a week-to-week basis, and simple score-carding using seasonal precipitation to date will be skewed by recent runs of heavy rain or extended breaks in the monsoon. Totals should even out over the course of the season and vary around the long-term average, but outliers and extremes are always possible. 

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Sept 2016 - La Niña Tracker

Friday, September 16, 2016

Climate Summary from the September issue of the CLIMAS Southwest Climate Outlook

Oceanic and atmospheric indicators of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remain in the range of neutral conditions (Figs. 1-2). In the last month, seasonal forecasts and models further reduced their certainty of a weak La Niña event forming in late 2016 or early 2017. The current projections find ENSO-neutral conditions to be the most likely outcome for this fall and winter, although the chance of a weak La Niña event cannot be ruled out. As past outlooks have noted, there was ongoing uncertainty regarding the prospects for La Niña, especially as it appeared to be having difficulty organizing, with limited coordination between ocean and atmosphere.

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Southwest Climate Outlook September 2016 - Climate Summary

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Climate Summary from the September issue of the CLIMAS Southwest Climate Outlook

Precipitation & Temperature: August precipitation totals were above average across most of Arizona and New Mexico (Fig. 1a), buoyed by a surge of monsoon storms that started in late July and extended through the first week of August, and a surge of moisture linked to Tropical Storm Javier in mid-August. August temperatures were mostly average to below average in Arizona and New Mexico (Fig. 1b), a decline that did not alter the overall seasonal pattern of very warm temperatures observed during the summer months (Fig. 2). September precipitation to date (Sept 1 – Sept 14) ranges from well above average in southeastern Arizona and portions of New Mexico, tied mostly to heavy rains during Hurricane Newton, to well below average in other areas of the region that did not record as much activity during this time (Fig. 3). Water year precipitation to date (Oct 1, 2015 – present) is below average in much of the Southwest, particularly in Southern California, most of southern Arizona, and western New Mexico (Fig. 4).

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