Population growth, demographic trends, and competition over water resources places increasing demands on existing water supplies, which are subject to demand from end-users fluctuating levels related to temperature and precipitation patterns. In the Southwest, an issue that has become a priority concern is the increased frequency of drought from warming temperatures due to climate change, and how that will impact the supply of water in the near future. In order to conserve water, communities in arid and semi-arid climates are increasingly recognizing green infrastructure as a cost-effective approach that conserves water and also manages stormwater. Furthermore, in order for the Southwest to increase its capacity to respond effectively to future changes in climate, the region must begin to integrate innovative solutions that support sustainable development. (Read More)
El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), better known simply as El Niño or La Niña, is normally a hot topic in the Southwest. La Niña is associated with dry winters, as we experienced most recently during 2010–2012, while El Niño winters generally are soakers. Both events occur, on average, every two to seven years, but lately not much has been happening. Up until recently, scientists have been unsure about what will happen to ENSO in a future warmer climate. However, over the past several months a couple of papers have been published arguing that we do know what will happen. (Read More)
Author: Clare Aslan
In the desert Southwest, urbanization increasingly alters the availability and distribution of water. Due to groundwater mining and surface water diversion, natural riparian and spring habitats are disappearing. To compensate for this loss of natural sources, artificial water sources in open deserts are commonly developed by wildlife managers and environmental impact mitigators. It is clear that both artificial water sources themselves, as well as the moisture-loving vegetation in proximity to the water, can provide essential resources for a variety of desert species. (Read More)
Continuing the theme from previous blogs, this post completes the Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest U.S. blog series with another perspective from one of the coordinating lead authors of the chapter on adaptation and solutions, “Climate Choices for a Sustainable Southwest.” Susanne Moser, the Director and Principal Researcher of Susanne Moser Research & Consulting, is a leading expert on adaptation, science-policy interactions, decision support, and climate change communication. Below she gives her opinion on the same questions we’ve asked the other authors in this series. (Read more)
Climate change could substantially impact the energy system in the Southwest through less efficient power generation, reduced electricity distribution, and threats to energy infrastructure—all while peak energy demands increase. In this blog, the fourth in a series about the recently released Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest U.S., I expand upon these and other key findings from Chapter 12, which describes the vulnerability of our energy system to climate change. (read more)
The fifteenth chapter of the Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States, entitled “Human Health”, explores the current state of knowledge with regards to climate-related public health threats, such as respiratory ailments from dust and fire-related particulate matter, changes in disease transmission and risk, and heat-related morbidity and mortality.
Key findings: When it comes to climate impacts on health in the Southwest, the authors focus on three areas—air quality, heat extremes, and diseases: (read more)
In our last blog, Gregg Garfin introduced the Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States. This week, we focus on the ecosystems chapter (Chapter 8: Natural Ecosystems) where Coordinating Lead Author Erica Fleishman from University of California, Davis and a dozen other authors describe observed changes in geographic distributions and phenology (timing of life cycle events such as blooming and migrations) in southwestern ecosystems. They also examine disturbances affecting ecosystems such as wildfires and outbreaks of forest pathogens. (Read more)
This blog is the second in a two-part series about using feedback from rural Arizonans to improve climate change adaptation research in the region.
In my last blog, I wrote that discussions with many groups of rural Arizonans revealed that they are highly aware of and concerned about changes that are occurring in our weather and climate, and that they already are engaged in adaptation efforts. What to do with that information? We used qualitative methods to analyze the group discussions, and then developed a model of rural Arizonans’ approach to climate change adaptation. (Read More)
This blog is the first in a two-part series about using feedback from rural Arizonans to improve climate change adaptation research in the region.
As physical scientists help us learn more about climate changes that may occur with global warming, social scientists focus on how we can adapt to those changes. However, because the interacting effects of both climate change and social forces are highly complex, uncertain, and localized, physical and social scientists may be more effective in addressing the challenges that climate change poses by joining forces and working together in interdisciplinary teams. (Read More)
The Colorado River, as many Southwesterners know, quenches the thirst of millions of people in several states. Many also are aware that the river is over-allocated, with more water designated to each of the Southwest states and Mexico than is the long-term average flow of the river. What’s more, streamflow over the past decade (2001-2010) has been substantially lower than the 20th-century average, and the latest projections show this trend continuing into the mid- to late-21st century (Southwest Climate Assessment Summary for Decision Makers and the 2013 draft of the National Climate Assessment). These issues pose serious problems for water resource managers. (Read More)