Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are still above average across the equatorial Pacific (Fig. 1), but they have fallen since last month (Fig. 2). Atmospheric conditions still have not coupled with oceanic conditions, and the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) is being discussed as one source of this delayed interaction. Forecasters continue to expect an El Niño to form, provided atmospheric conditions catch up with oceanic conditions and that SSTs remain above normal, but the window for relevance of such an event to the Southwest (i.e. the effect on cool-season precipitation) is closing. (read more)
December Precipitation and Temperature: December precipitation was variable across the Southwest, although temperatures were more consistently average to above average. Precipitation in Arizona was mostly below average to average with small areas of above average in the southeastern and northeastern corners of the state (Fig. 1). In New Mexico, precipitation was average to above average across most of the state (Fig. 1). Temperatures ranged from normal to above normal across Arizona and New Mexico. (read more)
In June and July of 2018, I conducted field work in the Bawku East and Nabdam Districts located in the Upper East region of northern Ghana. This is a semi-arid region that has been historically one of the least developed areas in the country. This regional inequality is in part related to the country’s colonial past, a growing population, low soil fertility, increasing environmental degradation, period droughts, and erratic rainfall.
My research focuses on understanding the socio-economic and ecological drivers of land degradation in this region of Ghana as well as understanding the barriers that prevent farmers from adopting sustainable land management practices (SLM) to combat land degradation. SLM practices are one of the best ways to combat and reverse land degradation and enable farmers to maximize the economic and social benefits from the land while maintaining and enhancing the ecological functions of the land. These practices include soil fertility and crop management, soil erosion control measures, water harvesting, forest management etc. (read more)
The conflict over the City of Los Angeles’ extraction and export of water from California’s Owens Valley has long captivated the public and policymakers alike. However, narratives about the Owens Valley water conflict, chronicled in Mark Reisner’s Cadillac Desert and sensationalized in the movie Chinatown, have often fixated on the demise of the agricultural economy at the hands of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) in the early 20th century. Though often described as an act of theft and lawlessness, Los Angeles’ acquisition of 95% of the valley’s land and water was in fact authorized under the law and facilitated by the federal government in the name of “the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run.” But, over the 105 years since the Los Angeles Aqueduct was completed, notions of what constitutes the greatest good – and the long run, for that matter – have shifted, opening plenty of space for contention and debate in what once seemed a simple calculus. (read more)
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)
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)