Environews: Climate change in the Southwest

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Environmental Politics

Environews: Climate change in the Southwest

The Fourth National Climate Assessment Vol. II, released in November, includes a regional report on climate change impacts, risks and adaptation in the Southwest United States. The report states that:

  • Drought in the Colorado River basins has reduced water in both Lake Powell and Lake Mead, increasing the risk of water shortages.
  • Population growth in Utah is also stressing water supplies.
  • The area burned by wildfires between 1984 to 2015 was twice what would have burned without climate change, partly due to the death of conifers in beetle-infested forests.
  • Hotter, more frequent heat waves are leading to higher levels of ozone and particulate air pollution.
  • Hot temperatures are killing the cryptobiotic soils on the Colorado Plateau.
  • Warmer winters have increased the spread of insect and animal-borne diseases like West Nile Virus, plague, hantavirus and Valley fever. Invasive cheat-grass has reduced habitat for endangered sage-grouse.

4th National Climate Assessment, vol. II  Ch. 25. Southwest

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