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Working on Projects with Students at Naco Elementary

Monday, December 9, 2019

Energetic middle schoolers fill the classroom air with excitement.  Three UA graduate students are standing in the way between their final hours of summer school and unlimited summer fun.  We better make this engaging! I think to myself. Today, we are there to talk about environmental science, and how the quality of our environment- the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, the soil that we run on- affects our every day lives, including our health (read more) ... 

Figure 1: Naco, AZ

The Story of H2O: Informal Water Provision in Nairobi’s Low-income Settlements

Monday, December 9, 2019

“Nairobi is a city of opportunities” said Mwangi – a 26-year old man who worked as an assistant to a private water provider. Mwangi’s job was to keep a check on the water pipes and kiosks that this employer recently installed in the settlements of Mukuru to sell water at a price of 5 Kenyan Shillings ($0.05) per 20-liter jerrycan. Mwangi aspired to start his own water business one day, as he explained, “Sister, in this city, water is the most valuable possession one would have. If I can run a water business consistently, it is pesa ya haraka – cash cow/quick money.” Responding to the perplexed expression on my face, he said, “It is simple, just work on making the right connections, with the right people.” Every year I go to Nairobi to conduct fieldwork, Mwangi’s words echo in my mind. What makes selling water so lucrative? Who are the right people to make connections with? I also ponder the tone of ease, self-evidence with which Mwangi called it a ‘cash cow’. It appeared to suggest that the question mark on my face was rather naïve, ignorant of the realities of urban life in Nairobi city. (read more)

Figure 1: Cart full of Water Containers

Save it for a rainy day: Roof-Harvesting Rainwater in the Sonoran Desert

Monday, December 9, 2019

Today, water shortages affect 1 out of 9 people. To put this in perspective, imagine a room with 9 people in it, 8 of those people may grab a cup full of water from a pitcher in the room but 1 person must walk thirty minutes for the same cup of water. Water shortages are not limited to dry environments, like Tucson, places with a stable water supply can, unfortunately, lack the infrastructure to provide access to safe drinking water. Imagine you were that unlucky person who had to walk for a drink of water. However, there are places where you do not have to walk thirty minutes because there is abundant groundwater but the infrastructure to supply is yet to be constructed. You may be thinking, drilling wells, pumping the groundwater, treating it to safe drinking standards and designing the delivery system will be rather costly. It is. But are there economical alternatives that can provide safe drinking water to rural communities around the globe?  Luckily for us, there are, and one we have been practicing for over 4,000 years: rainwater harvesting. (read more)

Mining and Groundwater in Southern Arizona

Monday, December 9, 2019

As I drive southwest along highway 82 from Sonoita, Arizona toward the Town of Patagonia, Red Mountain emerges on the skyline. The north face of the mountain is covered in vegetation, cloaking the red rhyolite that is visible from the south. Even more concealed are the systems of fractures, faults and old mining tunnels that complicate the hydrology of the area. I turn off the highway, ascend a winding dirt road, park my car and walk down a steep valley south of Red Mountain, keeping an eye on my GPS. I soon find myself at the entrance a gaping hole in the rock. The hole appears to be a cave, but it is not. Old mine adits; the mouths of snaking underground tunnels of abandoned mines, leak water, sludge, and a cool, ominous, vapor. The entrance of some are covered in a tongue of green moss; the opportune plant making the most of the moist mouth of the adits. Historic mines create a unique plumbing system in a mountain of fractured rock and act as massive pipes that drain out groundwater from the mountain. (Read more)

Figure 1: Old Mine Adit at Red Mountain (above) & Figure 2: Snowfall hiding old adit (below)

Southwest Climate Outlook - El Niño Tracker - November 2019

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

As with last month, warm waters have been lingering in the equatorial Pacific (Figs. 1-2). The consensus is on subseasonal variability and not borderline El Niño conditions, and they are expected to revert back to close to normal over winter and spring. Seasonal outlooks and forecasts all point to ENSO-neutral conditions lasting through 2019 and into 2020. (Read More)

 

Southwest Climate Outlook November 2019 - Climate Summary

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Monthly Precipitation and Temperature: October precipitation in Arizona ranged from below average to record driest, while most of New Mexico was average to above average (Fig. 1a). October temperatures were mostly average to below average in Arizona and New Mexico (Fig. 1b). The daily average temperature anomalies for Oct 1 – Nov 19 (Fig. 2) highlight the fluctuations at select stations around the region including a number of cold spells. (Read More).

Southwest Climate Outlook October 2019 - Climate Summary

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Monthly Precipitation and Temperature: September precipitation in Arizona ranged from much below average in the north, to much above average in the south, while most of New Mexico was average to below average (Fig. 1a). September temperatures were mostly average to much above average in Arizona and mostly much above average to record warmest in New Mexico (Fig. 1b). The daily average temperature anomalies for Sept 1 – Oct 15 (Fig. 2) highlight the fluctuations at select stations around the region. (Read More).

 

 

Monsoon Recap - October 2019

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Single weather stations around the region are useful for comparing long term averages to the current year. Figure 1 summarizes monthly precipitation, and shows 2019 lagged behind 2018 and long term averages in most months at most locations. Plots of daily precipitation for stations around the region (Fig. 2) illustrate the slow start and lower than average totals across the region. This monsoon was notable in how much it deviated from the past few years, where many locations in the Southwest saw a run of above normal monsoon precipitation. This made 2019 particularly disappointing. A look at the long term averages demonstrates that 2019 is consistent with some of the drier monsoons on record, even while specific station locations were at or near record driest. (Read More)

Southwest Climate Outlook - El Niño Tracker - October 2019

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Forecast Roundup: Despite warmer waters in the equatorial Pacific, seasonal outlooks and forecasts based on sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (Figs. 1-2) and other oceanic and atmospheric indicators, all point to ENSO-neutral conditions lasting through 2019 and into 2020. On Oct 10, the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) highlighted lingering warmer-than-normal SSTs in the western equatorial Pacific, and maintained their call for a 60-percent chance of ENSO-neutral conditions to continue until winter 2019-2020. On Oct 10, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) issued their ENSO diagnostic discussion with an inactive alert status, and focused on neutral conditions across the oceans and atmosphere. They called for an 85-percent chance of ENSO-neutral conditions persisting through fall 2019, and a 55- to 60-percent chance of ENSO-neutral through spring 2020. On Oct 10, the International Research Institute (IRI) issued an ENSO Quick Look (Fig. 3), emphasizing neutral conditions in oceanic and atmospheric indicators. Their models see ENSO-neutral as the most likely outcome, but remain at “slightly higher chances for El Niño than La Niña”. On Oct 15, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology maintained their ENSO Outlook at ‘inactive’ with most oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the range of neutral. The Oct 2019 North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) saw a turn back towards positive SST anomalies, but is forecast to remain within the range of ENSO-neutral through 2019 (Fig. 4). (Read More)

 

Southwest Climate Outlook - El Niño Tracker - September 2019

Friday, September 20, 2019

Forecast Roundup: Seasonal outlooks and forecasts based on sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (Figs. 1-2) and other oceanic and atmospheric indicators all point towards ENSO-neutral conditions lasting through 2019 and into 2020. On Sep 10, the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) highlighted dissipating warmer-than-normal SSTs and maintained their call for a 60-percent chance of ENSO-neutral conditions to continue until winter 2019-2020. On Sep 12, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) issued their ENSO diagnostic discussion, which focused on neutral conditions across the oceans and atmosphere. They called for a 75-percent chance of ENSO-neutral conditions persisting through fall 2019. On Sep 12, the International Research Institute (IRI) issued an ENSO Quick Look (Fig. 3), emphasizing neutral conditions in both oceanic and atmospheric ENSO indicators. Their models see ENSO-neutral as the most likely outcome, but with “slightly higher chances for El Niño than La Niña”. On Sep 17, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology maintained their ENSO Outlook at ‘inactive’ with most oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the range of neutral. The North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) is within the range of ENSO-neutral and is forecast to remain neutral through 2019, with more variability and uncertainty into 2020 (Fig. 4). (Read More)

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