SAFFORD — Dr. Mike Crimmins, of the University of Arizona Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, will provide an overview of the weather and climate of southeast Arizona on April 17, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Circle D Ranch located at EAC’s Discovery Park.
His presentation is part of the Landscape and Gardening Class taught in partnership with Graham County Cooperative Extension and Eastern Arizona College. However, because of interest in the current drought and potential changes in the current patterns that may affect the drought, the public is invited to attend the presentation.
Southeastern Arizona has been gripped by drought conditions for well over a decade, with the impact felt across many sectors and systems — from water resources to wildlife and vegetation condition. Several very dry winters in the past 10 years can be directly attributable to a handful of strong La Nina events, including a rare back-to-back event that spanned from 2011 into 2012.
Summer precipitation amounts have also varied dramatically from year to year across the region over this period as well, including very wet conditions in late July of 2006 and record dry conditions through much of the summer of 2009.
Temperatures were also very warm over the past decade, with almost every year experiencing annual average temperatures significantly above the long-term average, further exacerbating drought stress on vegetation and water resources.
High levels of natural, interannual variability in precipitation forced by the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, a strong seasonality in precipitation and warming temperatures, characterize the climate of southeast Arizona, all of which create great challenges in tracking local drought impacts and trying to plan for future conditions. This presentation will provide an overview of the main mechanisms that govern this variability and how these elements may change in the future. There will also be considerable time devoted to discussing how the El Nino-Southern works and the prospects of a strong El Nino event occurring this summer into next winter and what that may mean for southeastern Arizona. There is a potentially large El Nino event developing that could mean a wet fall and winter for the region.
Crimmins is a climate science extension specialist for Arizona Cooperative Extension. In this position, he provides climate science support to resource managers across Arizona by assessing information needs, synthesizing and transferring relevant research results and conducting applied research projects. His extension and research work supports resource management across multiple sectors including rangelands, forests/wildfire, and water resources, and informing policy and decision makers. This work aims to support managers by increasing climate science literacy as well as developing strategies to adapt to a changing climate.
He also serves as a drought-monitoring expert on the Arizona Governor’s Drought Task Force and has worked with counties across Arizona to implement drought preparedness and impact monitoring plans.