Confronting Climate Change in New Mexico

Action needed today to prepare the state
for a hotter, drier future

by the Union of Concerned Scientists

New Mexico’s climate is getting hotter and drier, driven by regional and global warming trends. This means earlier springs, hotter summers, and less predictable winters. Precipitation patterns are also changing, with more intense droughts and a greater proportion of precipitation falling as rain rather than snow. Shrunken snowpacks and earlier snowmelts contribute to lower stream flows at critical times of the year when the reduced availability of water has greater economic and environmental consequences. To prepare for the expected impacts of these climate trends, New Mexico would benefit from sustained efforts to mitigate the potential consequences of less water, the health impacts of more excessive heat, and increased losses of lives and property from wildfires, while safeguarding the state’s natural resources. Other regions of the world can look to New Mexico’s growing leadership on planning for water-resource stress periods and increasing drought-resilient renewable energy sources.

Download and read the entire report here.

Climate Change's effect on Elephant Butte Reservoir

In 2013, the Elephant Butte Reservoir reached its lowest level in 40 years (right)—just 3% of its storage capacity, compared with a nearly full reservoir in 1994 (left). As a result, farmers received less than 10% of their typical irrigation water, forcing them to turn to groundwater and other sources. (photos by NASA)

 


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