Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States

Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States

A Report Prepared for the National Climate Assessment


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Angela Jardine, Robert Merideth, Mary Black, and Sarah LeRoy; Edited by Gregg Garfin

528 pages pages | 8 X 10

Prepared for the 2013 National Climate Assessment and a landmark study in terms of its breadth and depth of coverage, this report blends the contributions of 120 experts in climate science, economics, ecology, engineering, geography, hydrology, planning, resources management, and other disciplines to provide the most comprehensive, and understandable, analysis to date about climate and its effects on the people and landscapes of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah—including the U.S.-Mexico border region and the lands of Native Nations.
What is the climate of the Southwest like today? What has it been like in the past, and how is it projected to change over the 21st century? How will that affect water resources, ecosystems, agricultural production, energy supply and delivery, transportation, human health, and a host of other areas? How vulnerable is the region to climate change? What else do we need to know about it, and how can we limit its adverse effects?
In addressing these and other questions, the book offers decision makers and stakeholders a substantial basis from which to make informed choices that will affect the well-being of the region’s inhabitants in the decades to come.
Chapter 1. Summary for Decision Makers


-Observed Recent Climatic Change in the Southwest

-Projected Future Climatic Change in the Southwest

-Recent and Future Effects of Climatic Change in the Southwest  

-Choices for Adjusting to Climate and Climate Change

-Key Unknowns 


PART I. Context


Chapter 2. Overview


-Context and Scope

-Other Southwest Region Climate Assessments

-Sponsors and Authors of the 2012 SRCA

-Characterizing and Communicating Uncertainty

-Accountability and Review

-Organization of this Report


Chapter 3. The Changing Southwest

-Lay of the Land: Geographical Themes and Features

-Land Use and Land Cover


PART II. Weather and Climate of the Southwest


Chapter 4. Present Weather and Climate: Average Conditions


-General Climate Characteristics

-Major Climate and Weather Events

-Climate Variability


Chapter 5. Present Weather and Climate: Evolving Conditions


-Climate of the First Decade of the Twenty-first Century 

-Climate Trends for 1901-2010

-Extreme Weather Variability During 1901-2010

-Summertime Drought During 1901-2010

-Hydroclimatic Variability During 1901-2010

-Paleoclimate of the Southwest United States

-Future Monitoring and Science Needs


Chapter 6. Future Climate: Projected Average

-Global Climate Models: Statistical and Dynamical Downscaling

-Climate Scenarios

-Data Sources

-Temperature Projections

-Projections of Other Temperature Variables

-Precipitation Projections

-Atmospheric Circulation Changes

-North American Monsoon

-Changes in Precipitation-related Measures


Chapter 7. Future Climate: Projected Extremes 


-Heat Waves

-Wintertime Cold Outbreaks


-Surface Hydrology

-Fire Weather

-Discussion and Key Uncertainties


PART III. Effects of Climate Change in the Southwest


Chapter 8. Natural Ecosystems

-Introduction: Climate, Climate Change, and Ecosystems of the Southwest

-Phenology and Species Interactions

-Southwestern Deserts

-Southwestern Forests


Chapter 9. Coastal Issues

-Coastal Assets

-Observed Threats

-Ocean and Coastal Impacts to Ecosystems

-Coastal Impacts to Communities

-Managing Coastal Climate Risks


Chapter 10. Water: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation


-Physical Changes to the Water Cycle

-Human and Natural Systems Impacts, Risks and Vulnerabilities

-Water Sector Adaptation Activities

-Planning Techniques and Stationarity

-Potential Supply and Demand Strategies and Solutions

-Barriers to Climate Change Adaptation

-Federal Adaptation Initiatives

-SECURE Water Act Overview

-Western States Federal Agency Support Team (WestFAST)

-Climate Change and Water Working Group (CCAWWG)

-State Adaptation Efforts

-Regional and Municipal Adaptation Efforts


Chapter 11. Agriculture and Ranching

-Distinctive Features of Southwestern Agriculture

-Implications for Specialty Crops

-On-farm Water Management

-System-wide Water Management: Lessons from Programming Models of  Water Allocation

-Ranching Adaptations to Multi-year Drought

-Disaster Relief Programs and Climate Adaptation


Chapter 12. Energy: Supply, Demand, and Impacts


-Energy in the Southwest: Past and Present

-Potential Climate Impacts on Energy


Chapter 13. Urban Areas

-Cities in the Southwest

-Pathways Through which Climate Change Will Affect Cities in the Southwest

-Critical Missing Data and Monitoring in Cities


Chapter 14. Transportation


-Passenger Transportation Trends in the Southwest

-Freight Movement in the Southwest

-Impacts of Climate Change

-Major Vulnerabilities and Uncertainties


Chapter 15. Human Health


-Current Climate-Related Health Concerns in the Southwest

-Climate Change and Potential Health Implications 

-Observed and Predicted Effects on Health from Climate Change


-Public Health Planning for Climate Change


Chapter 16. Climate Change and U.S.-Mexico Border Communities


-Definition of the Border Region

-Border Region Climate Variability, Climate Change, and Impacts

-Understanding Vulnerability, Risk, and Adaptive Capacity in the Border  Region

-Sectoral Analysis of Border Vulnerability


Chapter 17. Unique Challenges Facing Southwestern Tribes


-The Effects of Marginal Living Conditions and Extreme Climatic  Environments

-Current Impacts on Native lands

-Potential Rangeland Impacts

-Adaptation Strategies and Adaptation Planning

-Challenges for Adaptation Planning

-Vulnerability from Economic, Political, and Legal Stresses

- Climate Change Mitigation Strategies


PART IV. Options and Research Needs


Chapter 18. Climate Choices for a Sustainable Southwest


-Defining a Sustainable Approach to Climate Change in the Southwest

-Making a Sustainable Living in the Southwest: Lessons from History

-Limiting Emissions in the Southwest

-Adaptation Options in the Southwest

-Linking Mitigation and Adaptation

-Barriers to Planning for and Implementing Climate Solutions

-Coping with the Risks of Rapid Climate Changes

-Research Gaps


Chapter 19. Moving Forward with Imperfect Information


-Uncertainty Typologies

-Confidence and Uncertainty

-What Is Known and Not Known About Climate in the Southwest

-Moving Forward


Chapter 20. Research Strategies for Addressing Uncertainties


-Developing Research Strategies from Information Needs

-Research Strategies Derived from the Southwest Climate Assessment

-Research Strategies from Southwestern Ecoregional Initiatives

-Strategies to Improve Characterization in Climate and Hydrology

-Strategies to Improve Characterization of Impacts and Vulnerabilities

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528 pages pages | 8 X 10
publication year: 
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