The University of Arizona

Patterns and Causes of Southwest Drought Variability | CLIMAS

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Patterns and Causes of Southwest Drought Variability

Patterns and Causes of Southwest Drought Variability

Lead Investigator:  

Droughts are one of the major concerns for the future of the Southwest, and yet the causes of drought in the region remain only partly understood. The situation is particularly acute when it comes to the decades-long “megadroughts” observed in the paleoclimatic record of the Southwest, and in the growing awareness that global warming is making droughts of the Southwest more acute. This project looks at the observations of current and past drought, as well as the causes and impacts of these droughts. The goal of this project is to shed new light on the observations of current and past drought, as well as the causes and impacts of these droughts, including the role of ENSO versus Atlantic sea surface temperatures in modulating drought, the exact nature of medieval megadroughts in the Four Corners, the ecological impacts of drought, the evaluation of how well climate models simulate drought, and strategies for overcoming climate model deficiencies in assessing future drought.