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)
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)
While recording our November podcast a couple weeks after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the eastern seaboard, Gregg Garfin, assistant professor and extension specialist at the University of Arizona, posed this question; “What is the Southwest’s Hurricane Sandy scenario?” This got me thinking: Do we have a Hurricane Sandy scenario here? Would an extreme event of that magnitude be possible? We have experienced (and will experience) many extreme weather events, including floods, wildfires, heat waves, and of course drought. But do any of these extremes have the capacity to create an aftermath of similar magnitude to Hurricane Sandy? (Read More)
…is the opening track on Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut album from 1969. The song was a difficult experiment in some respects – a lead guitar solo with a swirling effect, sixteenth-note triplets on a single kick drum, and busy riffs on a bass guitar. Riding on these sound waves, Robert Plant tells of a few instances from his youth that depict how he has had his share of times both good and bad.
As regional temperatures continue to rise, vegetation in the Southwest also seems to be having its share of good times and bad times. (Read More)
Scientists are astonished by how fast Arctic sea ice is melting. Previous estimates called for the Arctic to be ice-free in the summer in 30-40 years. After this year’s astounding record melt, however, scientists are now thinking the Arctic may be completely ice-free in the summer by the end of the decade! (Read More)
Freshwater is a precious resource, especially in the arid and drought-prone Southwest. But what you may not know is that the biggest user of freshwater in the U.S. is not our everyday needs, or even farms, but power plants. What’s more, although 99 percent of those withdrawals nationwide were from surface water, in the Southwest, surface water is relatively scarce and thermoelectric power plants have been forced to use groundwater, which then raises concerns over aquifer depletion. (Read More)