Climate Change in New Mexico

In New Mexico and much of the Southwest, natural resource managers lack information about how they can anticipate and adapt to the effects of regional climate change. New Mexico was the first chapter in the Conservancy to answer that need by creating the Climate Change Ecology and Adaptation Program which provides land and water managers with information about climate change in our state's past, present and future.

New Mexico Climate Change Adaptation Project

We are assessing the impacts of climate change on New Mexico's biodiversity and identifying local level adaptation strategies that can help build ecological resilence to ongoing climate change.

Recent Changes in Climate in New Mexico at a Glance

  • Over 95% of New Mexico has experienced mean temperature increases.
  • Warming has been greatest in the western and central parts of the state.
  • Most of New Mexico's mid- to high-elevation forests have experienced warmer and drier conditions.
  • Of the 48 cases of ecological changes that are linked to climate change across New Mexico and the Southwest, over half involved species population declines.
  • Over 50 of the state's native animals and plants are already affected by climate change to some degree, including the Jemez Mountains salamander and Sacramento Mountains thistle.
  • High-mountain species and water-dependent species are particularly vulnerable.

Southwest Climate Change Initiative (SWCCI)

The Nature Conservancy initiated the SWCCI in 2008 to provide guidance to conservation practitioners and land managers in climate change adaptation planning and implementation on more local scales. This project specifically aims to: (1) further develop and expand our impacts assessment protocol to adjacent states in the Southwest (AZ, CO, and UT), and (2) apply a vulnerability assessment tool being developed by the U.S. Forest Service and an adaptation planning framework developed by a Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) working group to a series of case-study sites in the four states. The case studies will provide opportunities to further test and refine each component of the overall framework, by building on new research, strengthening existing partnerships, and laying the foundation for future innovation, including on-the-ground application and testing of adaptation strategies. Together, these field-tested tools will be useful in developing conservation action and monitoring plans (e.g., a climate change module in TNC's CAP process), forest and fire plans, and in building a regional learning network, all crucial to meeting the challenges posed by climate change for conservation.

Landscape Workshops

A series of landscape workshops where scientists and managers explored how to use climate change information to adjust their management practices. The documents below illustrate how focusing on climate change in a particular landscape can generate specific and concrete ideas for climate adaptation action.

Confronting the Threat

On October 22, 2007, The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico, in collaboration with the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) and the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth brought together key local, state, tribal and federal natural resource managers with agency and academic scientists to review climate change science, articulate management concerns, share management strategies and identify opportunities to address climate change adaptation challenges. Link to overview of workshop outcomes (McCarthy, Enquist, and Garfin, 2008).

Providing Visionary and Practical Solutions to Climate Change

The Nature Conservancy is joining with policy makers, community members, businesses, scientists, industry leaders and others to slow the pace of climate change. We work to:

  • Protect carbon-absorbing habitats on a large scale
  • Reduce the accumulation of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere
  • Help natural areas adjust to the impacts of climate change
  • Encourage the public to be carbon neutral� through our Carbon Calculator found on nature.org

In the News

Southwest Climate Change Initaitve Blog: The blog gives key findings of a regional assessment of climate change impacts on natural resources. It also highlights lessons learned from four pilot landscapes where natural resource managers, scientists and conservationists are testing different strategies to adapt to climate change.

Climate maps offer hope of sanctuary: A new way to predict how habitat zones will shift or vanish could help usher endangered species to safety. (New Scientist, August 2008)

Downloads

Climate Change Adaptation for People and Nature (March 2012)

In the U.S. Southwest, global climate change, acting in concert with extant stressors such as urbanization and over-allocation of water resources, is changing ecosystems in measureable and sometimes dramatic ways. Twentyfirst century projections indicate accelerating climate change and cascading ecological consequences. Our experience suggests that adaptation efforts can be effective if they are focused at the local scale; employ learning networks; and engage in ecosystem-based adaptation: the sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems so that they continue to provide the services that allow people to thrive in changing environments.

Download file (2mb) Report 1 (of 3) Evidence of Climate Change in NM (April 2008)

There is now strong scientific evidence that human-induced climate change is affecting the earth's species and ecological systems. The Nature Conservancy's state-wide assessment of recent climate change enables practitioners and managers to make better informed decisions and to take action in the near-term by identifying the potential vulnerability of habitat types, priority conservation sites and species to climate change.

Download file (8.3 MB) Report 2 (of 3) Evidence of Climate Change in NM (December 2008)

The second of three reports assesses the conservation implications of recent climate change on New Mexico’s watersheds and hydrology. Analyzing recent trends (1970-2006) in a water balance variable—climate water deficit—that indicates biological moisture stress or drying, this study identifies watersheds of high conservation importance in New Mexico that are most and least vulnerable to ongoing climate change.

Download file (9 MB) Managing Changing Landscapes in the Southwestern United States (January 2011)

This regional assessment examines the impacts of temperature change from 1951-2006 on natural resources in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. It documents that warming has already affected habitats, watersheds, and species in the Southwest, by influencing the timing of seasonal events or amplifying the impacts of natural disturbances such as wildfire and drought. The report concludes that to begin adapting to climate change, natural resource managers should reevaluate the effectiveness of current restoration tools, modify resource objectives, learn from climate-smart adaptive management and monitoring, and share information across boundaries.

Download New Mexico Climate Change Ecology and Adaptation Workshop (October 2007)

Summaries and presentations from a climate change workshop that reviewed climate change science, articulated management concerns, shared management strategies and identified opportunities to address climate change adaptation challenges.

Download Jemez Mountains Climate Change Adaptation Workshop: Final Report (April 2009)

Report on the Southwest Climate Change Initiative’s Jemez Mountains Climate Change Adaptation Workshop of April 2009 in Los Alamos, New Mexico. 41 pp., including executive summary and appendices.

Download file (<1 MB) Jemez Mountains Climate Adaptation Workshop: Presentations (April 2009)

Presentations by speakers at the Jemez Mountains Climate Adaptation Workshop of April 2009, including Todd Ringler (Los Alamos National Lab), Bob Parmenter (Valles Caldera National Preserve), Molly Cross (Wildlife Conservation Society) and Carolyn Enquist (The Nature Conservancy)

Download Flagstaff Climate Change Adaptation Workshop: Draft Report (April 2010)

Report on the Southwest Climate Change Initiative’s Flagstaff Climate Change Adaptation Workshop of April 2010 in Flagstaff, Arizona. 77 pp., including executive summary and appendices.

Download Flagstaff Climate Adaptation Workshop: Presentations (April 2010)

Presentations by speakers at the Flagstaff Climate Adaptation Workshop of April 2010, including Dr. Gregg Garfin (University of Arizona), Dr. Linda O. Mearns (National Center for Atmospheric Research), Dr. Seshadri Rajagopal (University of Arizona), Dr. Kenneth Cole (US Geological Survey), Dr. Kirsten E. Ironside (Northern Arizona University), Dr. Peter Fule (Northern Arizona University), Megan M. Friggins (USFS – Rocky Mtn Research Station), Dr. Joseph L. Ganey (USFS – Rocky Mtn Research Station), and Dr. Molly Cross (Wildlife Conservation Society).

Download Gunnison Basin Climate Adaptation Workshop: Participant Notebook (December 2009)

Agenda, climate change scenarios, speaker biographies, climate change adaptation framework description, background information, participant list and other materials distributed in the participant notebook for the Gunnison Basin Climate Adaptation Workshop of December 2010.

Download Gunnison Basin Climate Adaptation Workshop: Presentations (December 2009)

Presentations by speakers at the Gunnison Basin Climate Adaptation Workshop of December 2009, including Gregg Garfin (University of Arizona), Linda Mearns (National Center for Atmospheric Research), Joe Barsugli (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Molly Cross (Wildlife Conservation Society) and Patrick McCarthy (The Nature Conservancy).

Download Gunnison Basin Climate Adaptation Workshop: Final Report & Appendices (December 2009)

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) convened a two-day workshop entitled Climate Change Adaptation Workshop for Natural Resource Managers in the Gunnison Basin on December 2-3, 2009, in Gunnison, Colorado. The goal of the workshop was to identify management strategies that will help native plants, animals and ecosystems adapt to a changing climate and lay the groundwork for their implementation in the Gunnison Basin. Fifty-seven representatives of 20 state and federal agencies, local governments, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations participated.

Download Flagstaff Climate Adaptation Workshop: Presentations (April 2010)

Presentations by speakers at the Flagstaff Climate Adaptation Workshop of April 2010, including Dr. Gregg Garfin (University of Arizona), Dr. Linda O. Mearns (National Center for Atmospheric Research), Dr. Seshadri Rajagopal (University of Arizona), Dr. Kenneth Cole (US Geological Survey), Dr. Kirsten E. Ironside (Northern Arizona University), Dr. Peter Fule (Northern Arizona University), Megan M. Friggins (USFS – Rocky Mtn Research Station), Dr. Joseph L. Ganey (USFS – Rocky Mtn Research Station), and Dr. Molly Cross (Wildlife Conservation Society).

Download Bear River Climate Change Adaptation Workshop Final Report and Appendices (2010)

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) convened a two-day workshop entitled Climate Change Adaptation Workshop for Natural Resource Managers in the Bear River Basin on May 26-27, 2010, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The goal of the workshop was to identify management strategies that will help native plants, animals and ecosystems adapt to a changing climate and lay the groundwork for their implementation in the Bear River Basin. Thrity-nine representatives of 20 state and federal agencies, local governments, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations participated.

Download Bear River Climate Adaptation Workshop: Participant Notebook (May 2010)

Agenda, climate change scenarios, climate change adaptation framework description, background information about climate change in the Great Basin, and other materials that were distributed in a notebook to all participants at the Bear River Climate Adaptation Workshop of May 2010.

Download Bear River Climate Change Adaptation Workshop Presentations (May 2010)

Presentations by speakers at the Bear River Climate Adaptation Workshop of May 2010, including Patrick McCarthy (The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico), Dr. Gregg Garfin (University of Arizona), Dr. Linda O. Mearns (National Center for Atmospheric Research), Dr. Joe Barsugli (University of Colorado), Dr. Frederic H. Wagner (Utah State University), and Dr. Molly Cross (Wildlife Conservation Society).

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Collaborators

University of Washington

University of Arizona School of Natural Resources

Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS, University of Arizona)

Wildlife Conservation Society

National Center for Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS, University of California Santa Barbara)

USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station (Albuquerque)

USDA Forest Service Region 3

New Mexico Department of Game and Fish State Wildlife Action Plan