The University of Arizona

Drought in the Southwest | CLIMAS

Drought in the Southwest

Drought in the Southwest

Prolonged dry conditions are a natural part of life in the Southwest. Past records from tree-rings indicate that the Southwest has experienced protracted “mega” droughts that lasted about 50 years, a duration unlike the 1950s and 2000s droughts that caused economic losses to agriculture, ranching, industry and many other sectors. Because of recurring drought, many efforts have been made to minimize its impacts on human activity. The Colorado River, for example, stores about four years of water supply to buffer the affect of several consecutive years of below-average streamflows. However, some sectors are more vulnerable to drought than others, and drought can appear rapidly after just one season of below-average precipitation. Summer grasses, for example, that provides fodder for livestock do not grow in abundance or with as much health if the monsoon rains fizzle.

CLIMAS Drought Research & Outreach

Title Start Date Status
Impacts of Climate Extremes to Interstate and Local Trucking Industries across New Mexico and Arizona 2018 Ongoing
A Colorado River Shortage Declaration: Planning, Responses, and Consequences 2017 Ongoing
Evaluating Existing and Developing New Drought Indices Using Modeled Soil Moisture Time Series 2017 Ongoing
Improved Understanding of Climate Variability and Change Relevant to Orchards and Vineyards in Arizona and New Mexico 2017 Ongoing
Views of Drought across the Cattle Ranching Communities of Southwestern New Mexico and Northwestern Chihuahua 2016 Ongoing
Almonds Fish and a Modern Dust Bowl: Narratives of Drought Vulnerability and Adaption in California’s San Joaquin Valley 2015 Completed
Preparing for High-Consequence, Low-Probability Events: Heat, Water & Energy in the Southwest 2015 Completed
Rio Grande|Bravo Climate Impacts & Outlook 2015 Ongoing
1075' - Shortage on the Colorado River 2014 Completed
Climatic Sensitivities of Navajo Forestlands 2014 Completed
Colorado River Research Group 2014 Ongoing
Exploring the Use of Climate and Remote Sensing Data to Support Drought Monitoring Across the Southwest U.S. 2014 Ongoing
Disentangling the Influence of Antecedent Temperature and Soil Moisture on Colorado River Water Resources 2013 Ongoing
Droughtview - Keeping an Eye on Drought: Satellite Based Drought Monitoring and Assessment 2013 Ongoing
New Mexico Agroclimate 2013 Ongoing
Planning for Drought in the Warming and Drying Southwest: Drought Indicators to Support Tribal Decision Making in the Four Corners 2013 Completed
The Southwest Climate Podcast 2013 Ongoing
Treeflow - Streamflow Reconstructions from Tree Rings 2013 Ongoing
Managing Demand, Rethinking Supply: Adaptation, Conservation, and Planning in the Drought-prone Southwestern U.S. and Northwest Mexico 2011 Ongoing
Arivaca Community Water Supply Drought Vulnerability Assessment 2010 Completed
Dendrochronology in the Tribal Lands of Northeast Arizona 2010 Completed
Knowledge Exchange and Needs Assessment on Adaptation to Climate Change in the Colorado River 2010 Completed
La Niña Drought Tracker 2010 Completed
Tribal Drought Information for Monitoring, Assessment, and Planning (DRI MAP) 2010 Completed
Evaluation of Arizona Drought Watch: The State's Drought Impacts Reporting System 2009 Completed
Evaluation of Fire Forecast Products to Enhance U.S. Drought Preparedness and Response 2009 Completed
Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change, Drought, and Water Demand in the Urbanizing Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico 2008 Completed
Categorizing Urban Landscapes to Assess Drought Vulnerability 2008 Completed
Sectoral Impacts of Drought and Climate Change 2008 Ongoing
Adaptation Strategies for Water and Energy Sectors in the Southwest 2007 Ongoing
Reconciling Projections of Future Colorado River Streamflow 2007 Completed
Arizona Drought Planning and Mitigation 2003 Completed
Climate Variables and Water Market Prices 2002 Completed
Southwest Climate Outlook (SWCO) 2002 Ongoing