In the Bull's-Eye of Climate Change

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A panel of distinguished University of Arizona climate experts spoke before a crowd of about 100 in the Kiva auditorium in the Student Union Memorial Center, commenting on the latest United Nations report on climate change, published just a few hours prior. The panel interpreted the report's findings and shared implications for the Southwest.
While the latest report largely reads as a continuation of the previous one issued in 2007, according to the UA panelists, the group pointed out that significant advances in science and modeling capabilities have resulted in data of a much better quality and fraught with less uncertainties.
Julia Cole, a professor in the UA's Department of Geosciences who studies corals and other climate records for clues about past climate, opened the presentation with a brief overview of the report's core conclusions and projections for the current century.
"Here in Arizona, we are in the bull's-eye of climate change," Cole said. "We are warming faster than almost anywhere else, we are drying out because of this warming, we have a rapid rate of population growth, we are experiencing extreme climate events and hotter and drier conditions. Climate change is happening, right here and right now."
Wet gets wetter, dry gets drier
"It's going to be a 'wet-gets-wetter, dry-gets-drier' kind of world," she explained. "The desert regions are going to be more arid, while the equatorial and higher latitudes are going to see even more moisture."
"The warmer we make the world, the stronger the patterns we are going to see," Cole said, cautioning that, "warming does not occur uniformly, so your location doesn't tell you much about global warming."
In the course of global temperature rising, Cole said the report suggests a complete loss of sea ice in the Arctic during the summer months by about 2050.
"This is tremendously impactful," she said, "not just for life in the polar regions and marine life in general, but geopolitically as well."

Read more from this September 27 UANews article at the link below. Russell Monson and Michael Crimmins, faculty in CALS' School of Natural Resources and the Environment, were both members of this panel.

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