July 10, 2013

Will thirsty Phoenix survive climate change?

Posted: July 10, 2013
aerial Phoenix city skyline
The desert southwest, including cities like Phoenix, is experiencing a worsening drought. A Climate Central report says Arizona is the fastest-warming state in the nation.
Nancy Selover in front of a tree wearing blue shirt with short curly hair
In a USA Today article, ASU sustainability scientist and Arizona State climatologist Nancy Selover says that despite Phoenix's water plans, increasing temperatures will still be "the biggest weather killer" in the Southwest.

In an article as part of USA Today's "Weathering the Change" series, author Doyle Rice profiles Phoenix's long battle to supply its growing population with enough water. Phoenix, the fifth-largest city in the U.S., joins other Southwest cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Diego that are preparing for dwindling water supplies due to climate change.

Arizona state climatologist Nancy Selover says, "Water is our biggest issue. You can never have enough water." The most recent National Climate Assessment shows that Phoenix's drought has been "unusually severe." 

So can Phoenix survive an everlasting drought due to increasing temperatures? Some believe so.

We've sustained our way of life for so long because of three sources of water: the Colorado River; the Salt and Verde Rivers; and underground water. Plus, Arizona's water agencies won't approve any new development unless it can prove there will be enough water for the inhabitants for 100 years.

For the time being though, people are still struggling with the high temperatures, even at night.

"We are concerned about heat," says Selover, also a senior sustainability scientist in ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability. "Out here, heat is the biggest weather killer."

Article source:
USA Today


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Natalie Muilenberg, natalie.muilenberg@asu.edu
Global Institute of Sustainability