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Hunting for Black Gold

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

With the aid of my headlamp, I carefully check the contents of my backpack in the pre-dawn darkness.  Food, water, vials, coin envelopes...check.  I strap a shovel to the outside of my pack and swing it across my shoulders with a huff, shrugging to adjust the weight.  Two and a half gallons of water is not light, but I’ll drink most of it over the course of the next 12 hours.  And I always carry a little extra when traipsing around the Sonoran desert in summer.  I enjoy the June morning, about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, knowing the temperature will rise at least 30 degrees by midafternoon.  A warm breeze blowing across the Pinta Sands, a remote area on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, hints at the heat to come.  I sling the strap of my binoculars over my shoulder and start walking at a brisk pace so I can cover the three plus miles to the first wildlife water before sunrise.  If I’m lucky, I’ll see a pronghorn at the edge of the playa—a dried lakebed—like I did last year. (read more)

Groundwater in Southern Arizona: People, Perceptions, and Policies

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The fan made it difficult to hear, but the room was hot. Attendees were seated in tightly spaced rows, shoulder-to-shoulder. It was the Southeast Arizona Citizen’s Forum—a public meeting of the International Boundary and Water Commission that brings together stakeholders interested in water resources in the U.S.-Mexico border region. From my seat near the back, the rows of attendees looked like a motley assortment that together resembled a patchwork quilt—their clothing of various colors and styles—some wore suit jackets, others plaid shirts. There were cowboy boots, slacks, jeans, dress shirts, cardigans and work boots. As each person stood up to introduce themselves the diversity of stakeholders became even more apparent—representatives from U.S. Senator’s offices, state agency scientists, water utility professionals, local farmers, citizen activists, NGO employees, and concerned residents. Each raised their voice to be heard above the din of the air conditioner. They gathered to discuss water—each bringing a unique perspective. (read more)

Southwest Climate Outlook December 2018 - Climate Summary

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

November Precipitation and Temperature: After a wetter- and cooler than-average October, November was closer to long-term averages. Precipitation ranged from average to below-average in Arizona and New Mexico (Fig. 1a). Temperatures were mostly within the range of average, with some below-average observations in eastern New Mexico and the Four Corners region, and with a region of above-average temperatures on the Arizona/California border (Fig. 1b). (read more)

Southwest Climate Outlook El Niño Tracker - December 2018

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) are above-average across the equatorial Pacific (Figs. 1-2). The coupling between oceanic and atmospheric conditions that typically characterizes an El Nino event continues to be lacking, however, as atmospheric conditions lag behind. Forecasts and outlooks remain bullish on the emergence of an El Niño, and project atmospheric conditions to catch up with oceanic conditions. (read more)

Southwest Climate Outlook November 2018 - Climate Summary

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Precipitation and Temperature: October was relatively wet and cool across the Southwest. Precipitation ranged from average to much-above average in New Mexico and from above average to much-above average in Arizona (Fig. 1a). Temperatures were much cooler than normal, ranging from below average to average in Arizona and from below to above average in New Mexico (Fig. 1b). (read more)

Southwest Climate Outlook El Niño Tracker - November 2018

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Not quite El Niño? Widespread areas of above-average sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) now exist in the equatorial Pacific (Figs. 1-2), but atmospheric conditions have lagged behind. Most forecasts and outlooks, while still bullish on the emergence of an El Niño in 2018, identified current conditions as ENSO-neutral, but see an imminent shift in atmospheric circulations more characteristic of an an El Niño event. (read more)

Southwest Climate Outlook Tropical Storm Tracker - October 2018

Monday, October 22, 2018

Atlantic hurricanes Florence and Michael have understandably been the focus of attention this year, but as discussed on page 1, 2018 has been an extremely active year for tropical storms in the eastern North Pacific. While most of the storms expended most or all of their energy over the Pacific, a few had notable impacts on the Southwest. (read more)

Southwest Climate Outlook Monsoon Tracker - October 2018

Friday, October 19, 2018

The precipitation rankings for the months that encompass the monsoon period (see Fig. 3 on p. 2) smooth out the variability over space and time that is characteristic of this season. The cumulative totals for the monsoon for most of the major metropolitan areas in the region (Fig. 1) came in at or above average, with the exception of El Paso. (read more)

Southwest Climate Outlook October 2018 - Climate Summary

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Precipitation and Temperature: Precipitation in September ranged from average to above average in New Mexico and from below average to much-above average in Arizona (Fig. 1a). September temperatures were warm throughout the region, ranging from much-above average to record warmest in Arizona and mostly above average to much-above average in New Mexico (Fig. 1b). (read more)

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