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Understanding Urban Heat Vulnerability and the need for Resilient Design Practice

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

**Disclaimer: This blog post was adapted from a term paper for Dr. Christopher Scott's, Adaptation and Resilience in Water Resources Systems seminar GEOG 6960. **

The U.S. Southwest is rapidly becoming an urbanized region that is characterized by an intense urban heat island and summertime heat waves. At the city scale, high levels of urbanization in addition to local rising surface temperatures can affect the quality of life for several areas across residential communities, public and commercial spaces, etc. Heat within cities arises from different ways in which the built environment impacts energy exchange between the surface and atmosphere. This relationship causes unevenly distributed heat patterns across urban areas and some places tend to be hotter than others. Implementing green infrastructure shows promise to enhance the resiliency of urban areas (Benedict and McMahon, 2012). However, in several situations, the lack and disproportionality of green spaces withinin low-income, marginalized communities may further increase the vulnerability to heat and augment stress to communities that are already considered to be at a greater risk to heat (Read More).

May 2018 SW Climate Outlook - May Climate Summary

Monday, May 21, 2018

After a warm and dry winter (detailed in past issues of the SW Climate Outlook), drought, fire, and poor air quality (dust and pollen) are growing concerns as spring turns to summer. In May, warm temperatures (Fig.1), including triple-digit highs (Fig. 2), are increasingly common, while average precipitation is among the lowest monthly totals for the region (Fig. 3), and additional precipitation is unlikely. At the same time, the winds are picking up due to seasonal transitional conditions (Fig. 4), further increasing fire risk (Figs. 6a-b) and impacting air quality and public safety (e.g. dust storms). (read more)

Southwest Climate Outlook May 2018 - Climate Summary

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Precipitation and Temperature: The Southwest was characterized by below-average precipitation in April, ranging locally from record driest to near average (Fig. 1a). Temperatures were mostly above average for yet another month, with record-warm conditions along the eastern third of Arizona and the edge of western New Mexico, but also with a band of average to below-average temperatures on the eastern edge of New Mexico (Fig. 1b). (read more)

April 2018 SW Climate Outlook - Cool Season Precip Summary (Oct - Mar)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Monthly and cool-season (Oct-Mar) precipitation totals demonstrate how this La Niña year compares to previous years, and helps characterize the influence of ENSO on cool-season precipitation. Figures 5a-8a describe monthly and cool season precipitation totals at four weather stations (Flagstaff, AZ; Tucson, AZ, Albuquerque, NM, and El Paso, TX), where each dot corresponds to observed monthly and cool-season precipitation for each year since 1950, color coded by the ENSO status of that year, and the horizontal black lines correspond to 2017-2018 precipitation. Figures 5b-8b are scatterplots of ENSO index vs. precipitation totals for the regional climate division that contains each weather station. (read more)

April 2018 SW Climate Outlook - La Niña Tracker

Monday, April 23, 2018

Oceanic and atmospheric conditions over the last month remained generally consistent with a La Niña event (Figs. 1-2), but given the rapid decline of these conditions and the imminent seasonal transition, it is only a matter of time before ENSO-neutral conditions return. The current ENSO forecasts reflect this steady weakening, with most indicating a likely transition to ENSO-neutral conditions over the spring, and others having already declared an end to this La Niña event. On April 10, the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) identified ongoing La Niña conditions but called for a 90-percent chance that this event will end in spring. On April 10, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology maintained their ENSO Outlook at “inactive,” stating “there is little sign of El Niño or La Niña developing in the coming months.” On April 12, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) continued its La Niña advisory but expected a transition to ENSO-neutral conditions by May and forecast a greater-than-50-percent chance of ENSO-neutral lasting through summer. On April 19, the International Research Institute (IRI) issued its ENSO Quick Look, which still identified weak La Niña conditions present but called for a rapid transition to ENSO-neutral conditions over spring (Fig. 3). The North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) is consistently indicative of a return to ENSO-neutral conditions, but with greater uncertainty over what the latter half of 2018 might hold (Fig. 4). (read more)

Southwest Climate Outlook April 2018 - Climate Summary

Friday, April 20, 2018

Precipitation and Temperature: Precipitation varied across the Southwest in March, but temperatures remained warm throughout the region. Precipitation amounts ranged from record driest to above average (Fig. 1a). Temperatures ranged from average to above average in Arizona, and from above average to much-above average in New Mexico (Fig. 1b). 2018 year-to-date (Jan-Mar) precipitation ranged from near average to much-below average (Fig. 2a), while temperatures for the same period were above average to much-above average (Fig. 2b). (read more)

Southwest Climate Outlook March 2018 - Climate Summary

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Precipitation & Temperature: Precipitation varied considerably across the Southwest in February, but temperatures remained warm throughout the region. Precipitation amounts ranged from below average to much-above average, with the wetter areas concentrated in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico and the driest areas occurring in the Four Corners region and northeastern New Mexico (Fig. 1a). Temperatures ranged from average to above average in Arizona, and from above average to much-above average in New Mexico (Fig. 1b). (read more)

Feb 2018 Southwest Climate Outlook - La Niña Events in the Southwest

Monday, February 19, 2018

Winter precipitation (Dec-Feb (DJF)), during most weak La Niña events (ENSO Index Value between -0.5 and -1.0) has been below average, although a few years (1968, 1985) were notable outliers (Figs. 5-6). The monthly breakdown of weak, moderate, and strong La Niña events reveals that while the DJF totals for Tucson, AZ and Las Cruces, NM have been mostly below average, there have been individual months that recorded precipitation above the monthly average (represented by black lines on the plots). The most likely outcome for the Southwest this year is below-average precipitation totals for the winter season, but the way that these events unfold will have an impact on how residents perceive and experience this La Niña event (see the following page for examples from Arizona and New Mexico during La Niña events). (read more)

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