Climate Change

Climate Change in Arizona

Climate change is impacting Arizona; the average annual temperature has increased 1.5°F over the past 100 years, and is predicted to increase 2 – 8°F by 2100.[1. United States Environmental Protection Agency.  (2013, September 9).  Climate Impacts in the Southwest.  Retrieved from EPA:]  Increasing temperatures will affect many aspects of life, most notably water resources.  Rising temperatures will increase snowmelt and peak streamflows will occur earlier relative to previous years.  Furthermore, precipitation has been declining in Arizona since 1958.[2. The University of Arizona.  (2012, June 15).  Climate Assessment for the Southwest.  Retrieved from Climate Change in the Southwest – Observed Climate Changes:]

These factors will reduce reservoirs and groundwater tables, exacerbate droughts and water shortages, and increase the competition for available water resources.  Climate change also will negatively impact areas such as air quality, agriculture, and ecosystems.  Extreme climate events, such as dust storms and intense heat, will increase in severity and occurrence.[3. Morello, L.  (2010, December 14).  Scientists See the Southwest as First Major U.S. Climate Change Victim.  Retrieved from The New York Times:]

Dried Lagoon


Climate Change Stakeholders in Arizona

As discussed throughout IES 112 class, climate change is a global problem with far-reaching ramifications.  Local impacts of climate change in Arizona will be profound.

Stakeholders include anyone affiliated with Arizona, such as citizens, corporations, Native American groups, and even surrounding states.  A more arid climate with increased temperatures and increasingly stressed water resources will introduce challenges for all stakeholders.[4. Davis, T.  (2014, March 24).  New UA Center Aims to Prepare Tucson, World for Climate Change.  Retrieved from Arizona Daily Star:]

Arizona – Climate Change Winner or Loser?

In The Atlantic, Easterbrook investigates potential winners and losers of climate change.  Many different researchers have concluded that Arizona will be a climate change “loser”.  Rising temperatures will increase evaporation and create a more arid climate.  Forest fires, insect outbreaks, plant mortality, and severe dust storms will increase with higher temperatures.[5. Smithson, S.  (2012, September 17).  Southwest Likely to be Loser Thanks to Climate Change.  Retrieved from KNAU Arizona Public Radio:]

Forest Fire


Arizona – Climate Change Victim or Culprit?

In the journal American Anthropologist, Hughes proposes the “victim slot.”  Arizona will be impacted by climate change, but it does not claim to be nor is it a victim; instead, it is a culprit.  Arizona ranks 18/50 in greenhouse gas emissions in the US.

The Navajo Nation Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant located in northern Arizona, was the 13th worst emitter of greenhouse gases out of 6,700 facilities nationwide in 2012.  The facility released approximately 16.3 metric million tons of greenhouse gases in 2010.[6. Rodriguez, S.  (2012, January 12).  Northern Arizona Power Plant Among Nation’s Biggest Greenhouse Gas Producers.  Retrieved from Cronkite News:]

Navajo Nation Generating Station


Strategies to Combat Climate Change

Arizona is positioned both as a culprit and loser of climate change.  As noted in lecture by Professor Alatout, three main strategies exist to address climate change: prevention, mitigation, and adaptation.[7. Alatout, S.  (2014, April 8).  IES 112 Lecture.  2014, Wisconsin, United States of America.]  Arizona is trying to balance all strategies while also ensuring continued economic growth into the future.

For prevention and mitigation, Arizona has a goal to reduce greenhouse gases below year 2000 levels by 2020 and 50% below year 2000 levels by 2050.[8. Arizona Climate Change Advisory Group.  (2006).  Climate Change Action Plan.  Phoenix: Arizona Department of Environmental Quality]  Also, Arizona seeks to advance clean energy within the state and utilize more renewable energy.  Regarding adaptation, Arizona is committed to increasing water management efficiency, utilizing techniques such as wastewater reuse.[9. Davis, T.  (2014, March 24).  New UA Center Aims to Prepare Tucson, World for Climate Change.  Retrieved from Arizona Daily Star:]

Solar Power


Explore Further

Climate change figures to severely impact Arizona.  Please enjoy the show that is going to be playing before your very own eyes!