In an era of increasing climate instability, the southwestern region in the United States faces strained water resources, greater prevalence of tree-killing pests and potentially significant alterations of agricultural infrastructure. Such threats and challenges, as well as others, are detailed in the Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States, a new book published by Island Press.
The new book focuses on current climate conditions in the region, the environment of the past, what is projected to change over the 21st century and how this will impact ecosystems, water resources, agricultural production, energy supply and delivery, transportation and human health. The book also stresses the choices and opportunities available to society in order to reduce the causes and effects of climate change in the region. It notes the steps governments, businesses, organizations and individuals are taking to improve energy efficiency, improve water supply reliability, decrease wildfire risk and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A consortium of researchers from the Southwest Climate Alliance coordinated the assessment; these scientists are affiliated with NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment (RISA) Program and the U.S. Department of the Interior Southwest Climate Science Center. The Climate Program Office’s RISA Program specifically provided funding for the background research, engagement with stakeholders in the region, and contributing time (writing, research, and engagement) from Climate Assessment for the Southwest Investigators.
The book blends the contributions of 120 experts in climate science, economics, ecology, engineering, geography, hydrology, planning, resource management and other disciplines. The book is also one of 10 regional technical inputs to the 2013 National Climate Assessment released in draft form earlier this year.