The University of Arizona




Written primarily by guest authors, feature articles provide "on-the-ground" perspectives and credible assessments of various topics related to climate change solutions and science, with an emphasis on the Southwest.

Warmer Led to Drier: Dissecting the 2011 Drought in the Southern U.S.

Posted by Jeremy Weiss Jonathan Overpeck Julia Cole | on March 22, 2012
When prolonged high temperatures combine with scant precipitation, droughts intensify. This potent combination struck the southern U.S. in spring and summer of 2011-and may again in coming months-causing crops to wither and turning trees and shrubs into tinder. Record-setting wildland fires raced across parts of the Southwest and southern Plains. By the end of September, exceptional drought covered about half of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma combined. When all was said and done, damages exceeded $1 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The MJO and a Tale of Two Winters

Posted by Zack Guido | on February 28, 2012
Call it a tale of two winters. For the past two years, a series of December storms dumped rain and snow across the southwestern U.S. before clear skies and record-setting warm temperatures rang in the new year.

Western States Seed Clouds in Search of New Water

Posted by Melissa Lamberton | on February 09, 2012
On a remote mountaintop in the Sierra Nevada, as thunderheads gather in a dark mass above the peaks, a thin propane flame burns against the pale backdrop of snow. The generator, perched on top of a spindly tower, vaporizes a solution of silver iodide, wafting invisible particles upward into the clouds.

Climate Change Offers Opportunities for “Transformative” Restoration

Posted by Melissa Lamberton | on January 19, 2012
In the Southwest, a plant's citizenship status often determines its fate. Conservationists work to keep invasive species at bay with chainsaws and chemicals even as climate change begins to turn ecosystems into jigsaw puzzles. As global temperatures rise and precipitation patterns shift, native and exotic species alike head for new locations. Bethany Bradley, a biogeographer at the University of Massachusetts, has a novel suggestion: Make climate change an ally in our efforts to restore the damage caused by invasive species.

Climate, Forest Management Linked to Southwest Fires

Posted by Melissa Lamberton | on December 08, 2011
When thousands of acres burned across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas last summer, firefighters and forest managers faced a more formidable foe than just smoke and flames. Research suggests that Southwestern wildfires are becoming bigger and fiercer in response to the two-headed hydra of higher temperatures and abundant fuel. In both cases, humans have a hand in creating ecosystems ready to go up in flames, but making management decisions to reverse the trend may not be so easy.