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El Niño and Media Coverage in the Southwest

Friday, December 18, 2015

What do wildflowers, hantavirus, downhill skiing, locusts, and floods all have in common? The answer is El Niño in the Southwest. These subjects represent a small sample of media stories written during the last 33 years that connect regional impacts to the El Niño phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and help illustrate an evolution in our understanding of the significance of El Niño to the region. (read more)

2015 - Eastern Pacific Tropical Storm Recap

Friday, December 18, 2015

The 2015 eastern Pacific tropical storm season was one of the most active seasons on record, with 18 named storms and 13 hurricanes, nine of which reached “major” hurricane status (category 3 or greater). We also saw the strongest hurricane on record, Patricia, in the eastern Pacific in late October, and the latest-forming major hurricane on record, Sandra, in late November (see NOAA’s National Hurricane Center for more details). This meets or exceeds the high end of the NOAA-Climate Prediction Center (CPC) seasonal forecast (from May 27), which predicted 15 to 22 named storms, seven to 12 hurricanes, and five to eight major hurricanes. The eastern Pacific hurricane forecast was tied to the ongoing El Niño forecast discussion, as conditions linked to El Niño (e.g., decreased wind shear in the tropical Pacific) also favored increased hurricane frequency and intensity in the Pacific region. (read more)

El Niño Tracker - Dec 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

El Niño conditions continued for a 10th straight month, and models continue to forecast a strong El Niño event that will last through spring 2016 and remain strong through the early part of the year. Forecasts focused on the persistence of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (Figs. 1–2) and weakened trade winds, enhanced convective activity in the central and eastern Pacific, and El Niño-related ocean-atmosphere coupling. Notably, the SST values in the Niño 3.4 region were at or above the record values in November. Climate scientists have been quick to point out that numerous factors contribute to the overall strength of El Niño, but we are certainly seeing one of the strongest events on record. (read more)

Image Source - Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Image Source - NOAA/NWS - Climate Prediction Center

Southwest Climate Outlook December 2015

El Niño Tracker - Nov 2015

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Originally published as part of the Nov 2015 CLIMAS Southwest Climate Outlook

El Niño conditions continued for a ninth straight month, and models continue to forecast a strong El Niño event that likely will last through spring 2016 and remain strong through the early part of the year. Forecasts focused on the persistence of sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies (Figs.1–2) and weakened trade winds, enhanced convective activity in the central and eastern Pacific, and El Niño-related ocean-atmosphere coupling. (read more)

Image Source - Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Southwest Climate Outlook November 2015 - Climate Summary

Friday, November 20, 2015

Originally published as part of the Nov 2015 CLIMAS Southwest Climate Outlook

Precipitation: Over the past 30 days, much of Arizona and most of New Mexico recorded above-average precipitation (Fig. 1), as a number of storm systems brought moisture into the region. October rainfall was well above average across most of the southwestern U.S., with top 10 precipitation totals in Texas, New Mexico, and Nevada, and top 15 precipitation totals in Arizona (Fig. 2). November rainfall has been varied, with a mix of above and below-average precipitation.

Temperature: November has been cooler than average, particularly in Arizona and most of New Mexico (Fig. 3). These temperatures represent a stark change from October, which was warmer than average in both states. 2015 is set to rival 2014 as the warmest year on record, and we will watch to see whether early November reflects a short-term swing back towards ‘normal’ cooler winter temperatures, or whether the rest of 2015 will warm back up to make a run at the record. (read more)

Bhuwan Thapa - CLIMAS Climate & Society Fellow

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How farmers are responding to Gorkha Earthquake, climatic and socioeconomic changes in Nepal

Following the Gorkha earthquake in April 2015, many able farmers in the hard-hit Nuwakot district came together and repaired the damaged irrigational canals. They contributed labor and financial resources and where necessary procured additional funding from government institutions. Though some systems could not be repaired immediately due to lack of human and financial resources, the farmers demonstrated the power of collective action in responding to national disasters.

One of the uniqueness of Nepalese irrigation system is the farmer-managed irrigation system where farmers take the responsibility of the overall irrigation management including operation and maintenance. Indeed during the field trip of summer 2015, I learned that these institutions were pivotal in responding to multiple stresses resulting from natural disasters, climatic and socioeconomic changes. (read more)

Eric Magrane - CLIMAS Climate & Society Fellow

Monday, November 16, 2015

Climate Change and Poetry

At the September 2014 United Nations Climate Summit in New York, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a poet from the Marshall Islands, performed a poem dedicated to her young daughter. The poem speaks of hope for the future in the midst of sea level rise for a homeland—standing just two meters above sea level—that is on the frontlines of climate change: 

no one’s drowning, baby
no one’s moving
no one’s losing
their homeland
no one’s gonna become
a climate change refugee

or should i say
no one else


As both a poet and a geographer, I think a lot about the work that poems like this do. Can poets and artists help us find ways forward in a changing world?

(read more)

 

Christina Greene - CLIMAS Climate & Society Fellow

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Almonds, Fish, and a Modern Dust Bowl: Narratives of Drought Vulnerability and Adaptation in California's San Joaquin Valley

The plums were a deep red, their oozing juices staining the human-sized cardboard box in wine colored hues. Instead of being stacked in neat pyramids or ensconced in plastic, they were piled in by the hundreds, pressing against each other, their bursting flesh perfuming the air. We stood in two single file lines. At the front of the line, volunteers grabbed plums by the handful and thrust them into our outstretched white plastic bags, counting them out “dos, cuatro, ocho, doce, veinte!” I asked the gentleman in front of me in the line “What are plums called in Spanish?” He smiles at me from beneath his cowboy hat, “Ciruela.”

After all the plums have been bagged, we begin the process again with pallets of tomatoes, frozen chickens, rice, beans, and cucumbers. When all the food is packed and sorted into piles, we distribute them to the residents of this small rural city in California’s San Joaquin Valley where everyone’s job depends on agriculture.  Throughout the day I ask people about California’s drought – la sequía. They nod gravely, yes – la sequía.  (read more)

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