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isaacpalomo's blog

Trying to Solve the Colorado River Supply-Demand Imbalance

Friday, March 1, 2013

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)

Could the SW Have a “Hurricane Sandy”?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

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)

Good Times Bad Times…

Thursday, October 18, 2012

…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)

The Energy-Water Nexus in Electricity Generation in the Southwest

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

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)

Second Century Southwest Megadrought

Monday, November 21, 2011

The 12th and 13th century droughts during medieval times are perhaps the most well-recognized (see blog on 12/4/10). The medieval period in the Southwest, spanning roughly 800-1300 AD, is characterized by increased drought severity, duration, and extent. In a recent study using tree-ring chronologies from Colorado bristlecone pines however, Connie Woodhouse, Jonathan Overpeck, and I revealed an even earlier period of anomalous aridity and drought in the Southwest.( Read More)

Is Better Understanding of Atmospheric Rivers a Key to Predicting Major Floods in the Southwest?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Residents of the Southwest know the consequences of flooding all too well. Every year during the monsoon season, Arizona and New Mexico experience numerous storms that result in flooding, ultimately causing millions of dollars in damage and sometimes, sadly, fatalities. One good thing about these storms, however, is that the majority of the time we are somewhat prepared, in that locals are generally aware that flooding is likely during monsoon season. But what about storms that cause flooding during the rest of the year? (Read More).

Do Hurricanes Impact the Southwest?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Luckily, we’re pretty landlocked here in the Southwest, so unlike the East Coast, we don’t have to worry about hurricanes causing massive flooding and downing trees and power lines. Or do we? As it turns out, hurricanes and tropical storms in the eastern Pacific play a major role in our moisture budget and rainfall extremes. (Read More)

The North American (paleo)monsoon: What can the last few thousand years tell us about our future?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The monsoon is in full swing here in Tucson! Unfortunately, compared to the last two summers, this monsoon is looking somewhat better, but not by much (see recent CLIMAS report). This begs the question: is there any chance we could depend on the monsoon to help alleviate some winter water shortages in the future as global climate changes? (Read More)

Communicating CPC’s Seasonal Forecasts: It’s Complicated

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Many of us have seen the seasonal outlooks issued by the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) forecasters. These predictions are extremely important to those who have to make choices based on temperature and precipitation, such as natural resource managers, farmers, and ranchers. But there is a lot of information in the shading and numbers on these maps, and it’s not always clear what it all means. (Read More)



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