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Previous research has suggested that a general inverse relation exists between winter precipitation in the southwestern United States (US) and summer monsoon precipitation. In addition, it has been suggested that this inverse relation between winter precipitation and the magnitude of the southwestern US monsoon breaks down under certain climatic conditions that override the regional winter/monsoon precipitation relations. Results from this new study indicate that the winter/monsoon precipitation relations do not break down, but rather shift location through time. The strength of winter/monsoon precipitation relations, as indexed by 20-year moving correlations between winter precipitation and monsoon precipitation,...
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Leaf carbonisotope discrimination (?) was measured for three dominant, semi-arid woodland species along a summer monsoon gradient inthe southwestern United States over a 2-year period. We tested the hypothesis that decreased humidity levels during the growing season along this gradient resulted in lower leaf ? values. Sites of similar elevation along the transect were selected and the range in monsoon contribution to overall annual precipitation varied from 18 to 58%, while total annual precipitation differed by a maximum of only 25% across this gradient. Leaf ? values in Quercus gambelii were negatively correlated with ?, a seasonally-weighted estimate of the evaporative humidity gradient, suggesting that stomatal...
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The Colorado River is the dominant water source for the southwestern United States, crossing through seven states before reaching Mexico. The river supplies water to approximately 36 million people, irrigates nearly six million acres of farmland within and beyond the basin, and contributes an estimated 26 billion dollars each year to the region’s recreational economy. Yet the Colorado River’s water supply is already fully allocated, meaning that the economic and environmental health of the region is closely tied to the river’s streamflow. Climate projections for the Southwest show a future marked by chronic drought and substantial reductions in streamflow. The region has already been impacted by climate change,...
This paper summarizes the current state of knowledge concerning the climate of the Southwest. Low annual precipitation, clear skies, and year-round warm weather over much of the Southwest are due in large part to a quasi-permanent subtropical high-pressure ridge over the region. However, the Southwest is located between the mid-latitude and subtropical atmospheric circulation regimes, and this positioning relative to shifts in these regimes is the fundamental reason for the region's climatic variability. El Nin?o, which is an increase in sea surface temperature of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean with an associated shift of the active center of atmospheric convection from the western to the central equatorial...
Plant macrofossils from 38 packrat middens spanning the last ~ 33,000 cal yr BP record vegetation between ~ 650 and 900 m elevation along the eastern escarpment of the Sierra San Pedro Mártir, northern Baja California. The middens span most of the Holocene, with a gap between ~ 4600 and 1800 cal yr BP, but coverage in the Pleistocene is uneven with a larger hiatus between 23,100 and 14,400 cal yr BP. The midden flora is relatively stable from the Pleistocene to Holocene. Exceptions include Pinus californiarum, Juniperus californica and other chaparral elements that were most abundant > 23,100 cal yr BP and declined after 14,400 cal yr BP. Despite being near the chaparral/woodland-desertscrub ecotone during glacial...
A well-dated pollen record from a large lake located on the meadow?steppe ecotone provides a history of ecotone shift in response to monsoonal climate changes over the last 6000 years in the central Tibetan Plateau. The pollen record indicates that the ecotone shifted eastward during 6000?4900, 4400?3900, and 2800?1600 cal. yr BP when steppes occupied this region, whereas it shifted westward during the other intervals when the steppes were replaced by meadows. The quantitative reconstruction of paleoclimate derived from the pollen record shows that monsoon precipitation fluctuated around the present level over the last 6000 years in the central Tibetan Plateau. Three major drought episodes of 5600?4900, 4400?3900,...
Summer monsoonal rains (the southwest monsoon) are an important source of moisture for parts of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Improved documentation of the variability in the southwest monsoon is needed because changes in the amount and seasonal distribution of precipitation in this semiarid region of North America influence overall water supply and fire severity. Comparison of abundance variations in the planktic foraminifer Globigerinoides sacculifer in marine cores from the western and northern Gulf of Mexico with terrestrial proxy records of precipitation (tree-ring width and packrat-midden occurrences) from the southwestern United States indicate that G. sacculifer abundance is a proxy...
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Sixty packrat middens were collected in Canyonlands and Grand Canyon National Parks, and these series include sites north of areas that produced previous detailed series from the Colorado Plateau. The exceptionally long time series obtained from each of three sites (>48,000 C-14 yr BP to present) include some of the oldest middens yet discovered. Most middens contain a typical late-Wisconsinan glaciation mixture of mesic and xeric taxa, evidence that plant species responded to climate change by range adjustments of elevational distribution based oil individual criteria, Differences in elevational range from today for trees and shrubs ranged from no apparent change to as much as 1200 m difference. The oldest middens...


    map background search result map search result map Carbon isotope discrimination in three semi-arid woodland species along a monsoon gradient 50,000 years of vegetation and climate history on the Colorado Plateau, Utah and Arizona, USA Projecting Future Streamflow in the Colorado River Basin 50,000 years of vegetation and climate history on the Colorado Plateau, Utah and Arizona, USA Carbon isotope discrimination in three semi-arid woodland species along a monsoon gradient Projecting Future Streamflow in the Colorado River Basin