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Field of Dreams, or Dream Team? Assessing Two Models for Drought Impact Reporting in the Semiarid Southwest

Friday, March 22, 2013

To make decisions about drought declarations, status, and relief funds, decision makers need high quality local-level drought impact data. In response to this need in Arizona, the Arizona DroughtWatch program was created, which includes an online drought impacts reporting system. Despite extensive and intensive collaboration and consultation with the intended public participants, Arizona DroughtWatch has had few consistent users and has failed to live up to its goal of providing decision makers or the public with high quality drought impacts data. (read more)

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)

Drought Impacts on Dust and Health in New Mexico

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dust storms create both health issues and transportation hazards. Valley Fever is endemic to the border region and gets carried with the dust. Interstates and local highways are often closed for hours in an attempt to avoid accidents and injuries. Windblown dust concentrations can be very high when strong winds occur during extended droughts - creating “exceptional episodes” of poor air quality. Air quality in rural areas of New Mexico and along the US/Mexico border is normally acceptable and well below the US EPA’s air quality standards for particulate matter. But these episodes expose millions of people to particulate levels that exceed air quality standards. (read more)

Key Findings from the Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest

Friday, February 8, 2013

Gregg Garfin, lead-coordinating author of this report, will present these and other key findings on Friday, Jan. 25th at 10:30 am in Marshall 531. The report drew on contributions from 121 authors and will be published in early 2013. You can currently access the first chapter of the report, known as the Summary for Decision Makers. The full report will be available here.

The Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States is one of eight regional technical contributions to the National Climate Assessment, which will summarize key findings from each region and will help inform informs the nation about observed changes and anticipated climate trends.  The National Climate Assessment report will be published later this year. (read more)

Southwest Climate Podcast: Arizona "Blizzard" - Drought Remedy?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Was the "blizzard" in February unprecedented for Arizona, and did climate change play any role? In this month's podcast, Gregg Garfin and Zack Guido discuss this and the influence the storm and recent temperatures had on the state's snowpack. They also explore the status of drought in both Arizona and New Mexico, and what the precipitation forecast looks like for the next few months.

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)

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