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Covering Climate in New Mexico
Laura Paskus
New Mexico In Depth
“The warm spring temperatures are one of the
clearest observed climate change signals in North
America. A warm, dry spring is death to snowpack:
The snow sublimates and doesn’t get into the river.
So a low forecast turns into an abysmal forecast.”
Dr. David Gutzler,
University of New Mexico Earth and Planetary
Studies Department
Rio Grande in Albuquerque, May 4, 2015
May 25, 2015
May 4, 2015
May 25, 2015
• Study published in Environmental Research
Letters shows that decreasing snowfall and
rainfall will put many western water supplies at
risk in the coming century.
• Authors looked at 400+ river basins in the
Northern Hemisphere and how they may--or may
not--meet future water demands.
• Among the most vulnerable basins?
• The Rio Grande and the Colorado River basins,
both of which supply water to New Mexico.
“The first thing to realize is that this year is going to
be a real eye-opener. We’re going to see the world
temperature record broken, or more like shattered.
It’s going to be in that one degree range, if not by
the end of this year, then very soon thereafter. That,
from a scientist’s point of view, is pretty scary.”
Jonathan Overpeck
University of Arizona’s Institute of the
July 2012, Los Lunas
Mesilla, Jan. 2014
In the Sandia Mountains, there are more than
9,000 acres of dead conifers.
West-wide changes
• Most of the western US has warmed by about 1.5 degrees Celsius
compared to the historical norms from 1901-1960
• The frost-free season has increased in length by 15 to 20 percent. That
trend is expected to continue into the future, with a 60 to 70 percent
increase in many mountain areas
• While precipitation is more difficult for scientists to predict than
temperatures, annual average precipitation totals will increase in northern
states and decrease in the south, especially in the Southwest. Those
changes are projected to be small—but “both wet and dry extremes are
projected to increase substantially and almost everywhere.”
• “Very heavy” precipitation events will increase
• Dry spells will lengthen in most regions
• Snowpack and snowfed systems will continue changing
• Dettinger, Udall, & Georgakakos paper, 2015, Ecological Applications
Gila River, Oct. 2013
• Cultural expectations are abandoned with
• People try to persist until too late
• Social conflict and breakdown make the economy
• migration = ultimate solution to climate change
• 2010 talk by archaeologist Eric Blinman, “The
Rear View Window: 2,000 Years of People and
Climate Change in the Southwest.”
“My worry is that no one wants to ever propose
something because you’re going to piss
someone off. It’s not good enough—and all of us
need to do better.”
Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Las Cruces
Talk to reporters!
Laura Paskus
New Mexico In Depth
“At the Precipice: New Mexico’s Changing