By Ayrel Clark-Proffitt, Sustainability Resource Center
Yesterday, the U.S. government released its third National Climate Assessment, a report which examines how climate change is affecting the United States now, as well its future impacts on the nation.
More than 300 experts contributed to the report, including University of Utah atmospheric sciences professors Jim Steenburgh and John Horel, as well as mechanical engineering professor Eric Pardyjak, who contributed to the report’s section on climate change in the Southwest.
Since the last assessment in 2009, temperatures in the United States have continued to warm, extreme weather events have become more common, and Arctic sea ice has continued to decline, according to the report. The Southwest region of the United States, which includes Utah, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, California, and Colorado, will continue to become hotter and drier, leading to an increased chance of fire and severe threat to the area’s agricultural production.
Steenburgh, in his blog Wasatch Weather Weenies, notes that while the Southwest is expected to become more dry, trends in northern Utah remain less clear. However, “due to a ‘revved up’ water cycle, heavy precipitation events are expected to increase in frequency and intensity,” he writes.