A hotter future is projected for the Southwestern United States, and the anticipated threats unique to the region are detailed in a landmark report released May 2, with contributions from two experts at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES).
The new report stresses the choices available to reduce the causes and effects of climate change in the region stretching from the California coast to eastern Colorado and New Mexico.
The report, “Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States,” published in book form by Island Press, blends the contributions of 120 experts in climate science and other disciplines. The work includes sections written by two IoES climate experts, Glen MacDonald and Stephanie Pincetl. MacDonald, director of the IoES and a professor of geography and ecology and evolutionary biology, co-authored the chapter on natural ecosystems. Pincetl, an IoES professor and director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA, was the lead author of the chapter on urban areas.
“We found that Southwest cities are unique in their urban form and potential climate vulnerability,” Pincetl said. “They will experience an increased number of increased heat days, challenging the power grid and posing challenges for climate vulnerable communities. They are dependent on imported water largely from snow melt that will be impacted with climate change.”
“This will be an important handbook of the climate challenges facing the Southwest,” MacDonald said. “The Southwest really is ground zero for many of the most pronounced impacts of 21st century climate change in the conterminous United States. The region, already hot, has warmed more than elsewhere and will continue to warm significantly this century. Water resource problems will deepen, and our forests are threatened with increased pathogens and fires. Anticipating these challenges is the crucial foundation to meeting them successfully.”
This article was posted in UCLA Today and was written by Karen Lefkowitz.